5 Things Friday (Exercise and Caffeine, Best Restaurants & More)

IMUSAMcCorcmickI would say that May is off to a good start, don’t you think? The weather here in New York is vastly improving and between me exercising more these days and eating vegetarian at least a few days a week, I am feeling pretty great.

I did have a big scare with my weight last weekend, though. I hadn’t stepped on a scale since early April and the number I saw was completely unacceptable. Although I am still within my normal range, I am starting to get to a number I really do not like. It’s what I think everyone who has lost a significant amount of weight would say is their “scary number”, the number where everything starts to really go south. But instead of completely freaking out, I am doing something about it this week. And all of that includes having more Latin superfoods, easy lunches, drinking my greens and more. Check out what I’m reading in this week’s 5 Things Friday–and what you can be doing, too!  Continue reading

#MeatlessMonday: 10 Latin Vegetarian Dishes

LatinVegetarianI know it’s Cinco de Mayo and everyone in the U.S. is likely celebrating this Mexican-American holiday by, well, imbibing some margaritas and whatnot. But today is also #MeatlessMonday, a trend that I happen to love (and do) very much.

I love eating vegetarian (like my favorite tomato-cucumber salad, which I Latin spice up with cilantro and chili powder) because it allows me to add more vegetables to my diet. And I do mean “add more vegetables” to my diet, not the “I’ll just have a cheese pizza” type of vegetarianism. Instead, I use what is called “crowding in” with my diet–meaning that instead of subtracting the “bad” foods, I simply add a lot more “good” foods and the bad stuff simply doesn’t fit in anymore.

I also love converting some of my favorite Latin recipes into vegetarian recipes, like making vegetarian arroz con pollo, kale and cheese tamales or spinach and mushroom enchiladas. To celebrate this weekly holiday, and to remind myself to always have more vegetables, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite 10 Latin vegetarian dishes. Take a look! 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

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

Spicy Cuban Cheese Ball

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For my annual Holiday party this year, I made a spicy cuban cheese ball inspired by Michelle Buffardi’s wonderful cookbook GREAT BALLS OF CHEESE. I’ve been dying to share it with you guys ever since, but the Holidays were busy and I just didn’t get the chance. But now I’m finally sharing–just in time for the Super Bowl!

It’s really hard to resist this one. My friend Justin of JustCookNYC first introduced me to the beauty of cheese balls, and they’ve officially become my favorite party food. In fact, I couldn’t wait to try making my own version for my party in December and you can bet that I’ll be making this again at a Super Bowl Party in a few weeks. I highly recommend you take my advice and try this one, too.  Continue reading

5 Things Friday (Easy Weeknight Meals, Gymtimidation & More!)

fishkalesaladThis week was a very significant moment for me: a few days ago it was the five year anniversary of my gastric bypass. I can’t believe the crazy journey it has been, from losing 100 pounds to learning to eat new foods to getting a degree in health coaching to falling in love with cooking healthier.

Case in point: this week I went over to my friend’s apartment and made dinner. He absolutely loved the mahi-mahi and fresh kale salad with queso blanco that I prepared. I even lucked out because he happened to be in the mood for kale, so I definitely did good. The next thing on my list? Check out some healthy recipes and get to cooking more this year! Here are some ideas that I’m starting with, including a favorite new cookbook. Continue reading

Fresh Kale Salad with Queso Blanco

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I fell in love with kale a few years ago.

Soon after I started my studies at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, I took a few healthy cooking classes and somewhere along the way was introduced to kale. I can’t remember exactly how it happened but, all of a sudden, I was one of those crazy kale-worshipping nuts. And I’ve never been happier.

After I discovered nutritional powerhouse that is kale, I discovered caldo verde, a Portuguese soup made with sausage, potatoes and, of course, kale. I also started making sautéed kale and constantly adding it in my quinoa salads and pasta dishes. It was glorious. But I didn’t truly appreciate the full versatility of kale until I discovered how to make a fresh kale salad. Continue reading

Smoky Three Bean & Kale Chili with Quinoa

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About a week ago, it was an absolutely miserable day in New York City. The sky was gray, it was raining on and off, and I just couldn’t get warm all day. It was probably the first truly dreary day this autumn, and I was in an undesirable mood.

All I wanted was to go home and eat some leftovers but, as I made my way home, I just didn’t feel like eating the spicy sweet potato and black bean salad I had (although I had been enjoying it for lunch for several days now). Instead, I needed something hearty. I needed something warm. I needed chili… And I needed it bad.

That’s how my crappy day turned into a great one, ending with a smoky three bean and kale chili that I topped with Greek yogurt and served over quinoa. I knew that it was going to take a lot to improve on this dreary day, and luckily this chili did not disappoint. Continue reading

Spicy Sweet Potato & Black Bean Salad

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When I was younger, you couldn’t pay me to eat a salad. I remember my mami begging me to try one: a Caesar, some spinach, anything! But I refused and stayed a stubborn, picky eater. Now, after having lost 100 pounds, I definitely know better.

I can almost surprise myself with how differently I eat these days. Instead of avoiding salads like the plague, I eat all kinds of greens. I also enjoy seasonal produce, clean eating (you know, as little processed stuff as possible) and making healthy choices as much as possible. That’s why a couple weeks ago, when I saw Fall produce begin to appear in farmer’s markets stalls across New York City, I had to buy a few sweet potatoes. Plus I just had to get some pomegranate seeds. And I admit: I was actually craving a salad.

After thinking about what I had in my cupboards (black beans) and what dressing I recently fell in love with (the avocado vinaigrette), I decided that what I really wanted was to make a spicy sweet potato and black bean saladContinue reading

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