5 Things Friday (Spring Recipes, Slow Cooker Reviews & More!)

smoothiesI have to admit: this week has turned out great for me! After a way-too-hectic last week, I’ve thankfully had time to recharge my batteries and get back to the things I love to do (and eat) on a regular basis. Plus: two pretty big accomplishments!

First of all, I’ve started making morning smoothies again. I’ve realized that I just don’t have time in the morning for a proper breakfast and so getting back to making smoothies, like my Pink Power Breakfast Smoothie, has been amazing.

The other accomplishment is that after months of talking about it, I’ve finally rejoined the gym and started going on a regular basis. It’s been harder than I realized, but going in the mornings and committing to just 20 minutes a day has been achievable. Not easy, of course, but definitely getting better–and I’m so proud of myself for it!

So what else has been going on this week? Well, I’ve reviewed some slow cookers, read a really great book, explored some Spring recipes and got inspired to cook a very special dinner later tonight. Check out my 5 Things Friday!
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Thai Soba Noodles with Cachucha Peppers

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I first learned about cachucha peppers when my mother started growing them in her garden. As her plant flourished, the native Cuban peppers (or aji cachucha as they’re known in Spanish) made their way into my kitchen.

The peppers are a variety of the South American sweet pepper, which make their way into dishes like Venezuelan Hallaca (a savory tamale-style dish) and Puerto Rican sofrito (a sauce with onions, peppers, garlic and tomatoes). With a similar look to the habanero, they range in color from pale green to bright red and orange, and are actually surprisingly mild. I love the smoky and sweet flavor that I’ve used in everything from roasted tomato salsa to a classic arroz con pollo. Although I often use it to make Latin dishes, I’ve started to learned just how versatile this little red pepper is.

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Lately I’ve been playing around with using cachucha peppers in Thai dishes. I love the slight sweetness that it adds to some of the spicy dishes and the texture that it adds to creamier ones. The dish I fell in love with, though, is a combination of both. Thai-style soba noodles with cachucha peppers, baby kale and carrots.

The creaminess of the peanut butter and coconut milk gain a great added spice from the Thai red curry paste and added depth from the Thai fish sauce. Meanwhile, the kale and cachuchas brighten up the dish.

Although I’ve found the easiest way to acquire cachucha peppers is from my own garden (or my mom’s), buying the peppersor actual seeds online isn’t that difficult. You can also occasionally find them in Latin grocery stores. The only difficult part of this recipe, really, is that deseeding the peppers takes some time. I usually try to go through to deseed and mince them ahead of time. In fact, I find that having a small jar of minced cachucha peppers that I can throw into recipes is my favorite part of cooking these days.

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Thai Soba Noodles with Cachucha Peppers
 
By: 
Recipe type: Whole Grains
Cuisine: International
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

This mildly spicy noodle dish combines the flavors of Thai with Cuban cachucha peppers for a perfect mix. You’ll spend most of your time deseeding the peppers, and it’s fine to do that ahead of time. If you can’t find galangal in your local grocery, replace it with ginger instead.
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 20 cachucha peppers, deseeded and minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon galangal, minced
  • 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons Thai fish sauce
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 (3.1 ounce) serving of Soba noodles
  • 2 cups finely chopped fresh baby kale
  • ½ cup shredded carrot
  • cilantro and lime wedge, to garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. Heat a large pan and place the coconut oil. Once it has sufficiently melted, add the shallots and sauté for about 2-3 minutes or until they are golden.
  2. Add the cachucha peppers and sauté for another 2 minutes, then add both the garlic and galangal. Continue to sauté, stirring well.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and add the Soba noodles. Continue cooking, stirring as needed, for about 4-5 minutes until they are al dente. Once ready, drain and set aside.
  4. In the sauce pan, add in the peanut butter, red curry paste, coconut milk, fish sauce and juice of lime to the pepper mixture. Stir until the mixture is a golden, creamy color.
  5. Add in the baby kale, mix it thoroughly with the sauce, and continue to sauté until the kale is done (about 5 minutes).
  6. In a medium bowl, combine the soba noodles, kale in sauce and carrots. Toss together, then serve warm with a garnish of cilantro and wedge of lime.


Have you ever cooked with Cuban cachucha peppers?

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Pink Power Breakfast Smoothie

HealthyLatinFood_PinkPowerSmoothieAfter a couple weeks of having plain toast for breakfast or, even worse, not having breakfast at all because I was too busy running out of the house on time, I’ve decided it’s time to get back to my healthy habit of making smoothies.

Never one that was afraid of a challenge, and because I knew I’d be going back to the gym this week, I decided that there was no better place to start than a protein-packed smoothie thanks to Greek yogurt.

Of course, I’m also always a big fan of using what else I have around the house–this time it included dragon fruit and Meyer lemons that I recently received as a gift from my parents. Sure, it might sound like a weird combination but what I loved about this smoothie is that both raspberries (which I bought) and the dragon fruit have a ton of Vitamin C and antioxidants. Tell me, is there any better way to start the morning? Nope! Continue reading

10 Healthiest Latin Fast Foods Under 500 Calories

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I’ve had a pretty busy week and, because of that, I haven’t had time to put anything down. In fact, I haven’t even had time to cook anything–and sometimes that means relying on getting food that’s a bit faster.

As someone who’s lived through the obesity epidemic myself, and who is always trying to get other Latinos to make healthier choices, I hate to admit that sometimes fast food is just the best option. The thing is, though, just because it’s “fast food” doesn’t mean that it can’t be at least moderately good for you–and low in calories.

That’s how I came up with this list of 10 Latin fast food dishes that are actually under 500 calories. Isn’t that amazing? From Panera’s Black Bean Soup to Subway’s 6″ Turkey Jalapeño Melt sandwich, check out the full list! Continue reading

5 Things Friday (Cameron Diaz, Childhood Obesity & More!)

tacoalpastorOkay, it’s time for 5 Things Friday and this is typically the time that I overshare a little bit. And I think that’s okay, right? You’re not judging me, are you? Anyway…

I’m loving life right now. Ever since my birthday, I think that things have been going really well for me. The only caveat? I’m not actually at the weight that I want to be at. Back when I lost over 100 pounds, the lowest I got down to was 120 pounds. It was a bit too much for me, actually, but I was happy to be in the 130′s range. These days, though, I have to admit something to you: I’m in the low 140′s range. And that’s really cool not with me. Which is why, with my birthday and everything, I am really going back to healthier eating and going to the gym. Think I can do it? I’m not sure. But here’s hoping! And here are some awesome links that I’m reading this week, too. Continue reading

Slow Cooker Ranchero Bean & Turkey Soup with Kale

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I don’t know about you, but I am totally one of those people that freezes turkey leftovers from Thanksgiving and tries to figure out what to do with them later in the year. When it came to using up the rest of what I had, I couldn’t think of anything better than a slow cooker soup. Here’s the truth: I am a bit addicted to my slow cooker. And I personally don’t think that’s an addiction that’s going to die down any time soon.

You remember my slow cooker turkey broth, right? Well, when I moved apartments a few weeks ago, I brought it all with me but now I have to figure out what to actually do with it. To be honest, I came up with this recipe pretty randomly. I had the turkey broth, the leftover turkey and then I saw the Ranchero beans in the store and couldn’t help myself. The topping on the cherry? Kale, obviously. Because that’s how I roll. Continue reading

Roasted Heirloom Tomato & Cachucha Peppers Salsa

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I’ve always been one of those people who loves her birthday, and celebrating turning 28 years old this past Saturday with some of my best friends was absolutely wonderful. But of course, it wouldn’t be my birthday if I didn’t have a special little treat for everyone.

This year I made a variation on my Spicy Cuban Cheese Ball, some pomegranate margaritas and a roasted heirloom tomato and cachucha peppers salsa. Well, to be honest, I’ve actually been making this one since my Christmas party–and it’s been a huge hit! Typically, I serve it with whole wheat tortilla chips but I’ve also tried it with celery and baby carrots and that’s been great, too.  Continue reading

20 Latin Superfoods to Try For National Nutrition Month (with recipes!)

juicingYou already know that I love juicing (have you seen my Juicing 101 story?), but there’s something else that I love even more: eating (and also drinking) Latin superfoods!

For me, one of the most important parts of living a healthy life is incorporating as many high-nutrient foods as I possibly can. When I started losing weight and stopped being a picky eater, I made the conscious effort to start eating more of these on a regular basis–and it has definitely paid off with my health and waistline!

These days, whether I am cooking or juicing, I try to use as many Latin superfoods as I possibly can. Sometimes that means including avocados, other times it’s all about quinoa, and sometimes I just can’t get enough of black beans. Having the healthy recipes to utilize some of these is pretty key, too. In fact, in honor of National Nutrition Month, I’m putting together the full list of my 20 favorite Latin superfoods–with recipes! Continue reading

Brazilian Garlicky Collard Greens (Couve a Mineira)

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One of my favorite parts of visiting my parents over the Holidays is coming back with goodies from my mom’s garden. It’s only been happening for the past couple of years, really, since they moved and she started growing all kinds of fruit and vegetables.

This year I brought back some collard greens, and I’m thrilled to share this delicious recipe with you. It’s actually become my go-to recipe for collards because of how easy it is and how great it tastes. After learning this traditional Brazilian recipe for collard greens, I started playing around with it by occasionally adding different spices or flavorings. The best I’ve had, though, is with some added lemon juice and zest. And that’s how I’m serving up these Brazilian garlicky collard greens (a.k.a. couve a mineira). Continue reading

Mango Pomegranate Mimosas with Mint

HealthyLatinFood_MangoPomegranateMintMomosa1I know I’ve been a little missing-in-action lately but, trust me, I’ve still been working on recipes whenever I can. Perhaps you’ve seen some of my latest cooking and eating out adventures on my Instagram feed?

The craziest thing that’s gone on in my life lately is the fact that I just moved apartments. From finding a new place to packing (and getting rid of things) to actually moving and setting up my new place, I was exhausted.

But that’s all over now. I am happily settled in my new apartment and now it’s time to celebrate! And guess how I’m doing it? By having friends over to try my latest creation: these mango pomegranate mimosas with mint! Continue reading

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