Tag Archives: avocado

Ancho Chili Rubbed Grilled Flank Steak Salad for Cinco de Mayo

steak salad 2

After a very long winter here on the east coast, things are finally warming up!  We celebrated by buying flowers at a neighborhood plant sale and planting them in our garden.

flower

Then Denis whipped up the grill.  With Cinco de Mayo just around the corner, I thought I would share a Mexican inspired steak salad recipe. It’s loosely based around my Asian one, which was a finalist in the 2006 Cooking Light Magazine Reader Recipe Contest and appears in the 2008  Cooking Light Annual Recipe Cookbook.

I first prepared the flank steak by rubbing it with an Ancho Chili Spice mix that I made and let the steak sit at room temperature for about an hour.  I scored the surface of the flank steak diagonally, making a diamond pattern.  This is to prevent the met from curling when it’s exposed to high heat.  Then I inserted garlic slivers in the cuts.

raw steak

While the meat was resting, I made a Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette and put together the salad.

Denis grilled the Ancho Rubbed steak on each side for about 4 minutes on a very hot grill, then 5 minutes over indirect heat.  This is for medium well.  If you want it to be more rare, cook in less time, and keep checking the resistance of the meat to touch.

charred top2

After tenting the steak for about five minutes to let the juices redistribute, I sliced it on the bias and served with the salad and drizzled the vinaigrette on top.

cut meatGarnished with a bit of Cojito cheese and more cilantro, this healthy salad was the perfect meal to celebrate more warm, sunny days to come!

For more healthy recipes and inspiration similar to this salad, check out Aloha’s healthy recipes. I’ve been drooling over the recipes there!

steak salad 1

 

 

Ancho Chili Rubbed Grilled Flank Steak Salad

For steak:

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground ancho chili powder (if you can’t find this, regular chili powder would work)

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 lb. flank steak, trimmed of fat

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons olive oil

1.  Mix salt, brown sugar, chili powder, ground cumin, and smoked paprika together in a small bowl.  Set aside.

2.  Score diagonal lines across both sides of flank steak.  Rub with spice mixture on each side.  Insert garlic slivers in cuts.   Let rest for 30-60 minutes.

3.  While meat is resting, prepare grill with the coals on one side.  Brush one side of meat with olive oil.  Sear  about 4 minutes over direct heat.  Flip and brush with more oil. Sear for another 4 minutes then move to the indirect heat side and let cook for about three to five minutes, depending on how cooked you like your meat.

4.  Tent meat and let rest for five to ten minutes.  Slice on the bias and serve.

charred top

For the dressing:

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic (about 1 clove)

1 teaspoon lime zest (from one lime)

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup heaping tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

1/4 cup tablespoons olive oil

1.  Mix garlic, zest, lime juice, vinegar, salt, sugar, and cilantro together.  Slowly add olive oil to mixture while stirring.  Set aside

For Salad:

8 cups mesclun greens

1/4 red onion, thinly sliced

1 ripe avocado, cubed

2 plum tomatoes, chopped

1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup steamed frozen corn kernals

cilantro for garnish

1/2 cup crumbled cojito cheese

Ancho Rubbed Grilled Flank Steak, sliced thinly on the bias

1.  Toss greens, onion, avocado, tomatoes, black beans and corn together.  Top with sliced grilled steak.  Garnish with more cilantro and crumbled cojito cheese.

Makes 4 servings, with extra dressing.

steak salad 3

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Filed under Beef, Dinner, Vegetables

Chocolate Coconut Avocado Ice Cream

avocado ice cream

In the comments section of my last post, Trixie Pin of Almonds Are Mecurial mentioned an Avocado Ice Cream recipe found at Oatmeal with a Fork.   I’ve always heard of ice cream made out of avocado and I’ve been wanting to try it for some time.  I ended up basing my recipe on this Vegan Mint Chocolate Chip recipe at Detoxinista, which is actually very similar to the Oatmeal with a Fork one.  All three sites have fantastic healthy recipes and beautiful photography, so check them out!  (I’m definitely going to try the Mint and Chip one soon — love that it’s green naturally!)

I only had 1/2 an avocado to work with and I didn’t want to wait until my other two ripened before I made the Chocolate Coconut Avocado Ice Cream.  I was woman obsessed.  The other 1/2 of avocado I had used to make a half portion of my Creamy Avocado Dip, which I was also craving because I had some homemade pita chips on hand….!  You see, I have both a sweet AND savory tooth!

First off, this is how I ripen my avocados — I throw them in a brown paper bag with bananas or plantains and fold the bag closed.  In a few days, they are perfect.

An unripened avocado and a ripe one, with an unripened plantain cozying up to them.  The ripened bananas were cut up and frozen.

An unripened avocado and a ripe one, with an unripened plantain cozying up to them. The ripened bananas were cut up and frozen.

Avocados are amazing fruit. They are full of more than 25 essential nutrients, fiber, protein, good fat, and beneficial antioxidants!  Read more about the benefits here, if you are curious.   I am so glad I like to eat them now.  As a kid, I hated them.  I’m happy Jamie loves guacamole.  My mom eats avocados only one way:  Mashed with brown sugar and spread on her morning toast.  I guess it’s a Hawaiian thing….  This is a savory breakfast that sounds good, that I will try soon — an egg baked in half an avocado!

Recently, I heard on a podcast about a study done which showed that eating avocados tripled a woman’s chance of getting pregnant through IVF.  I’m not trying to get pregnant but found it intriguing.  There are several lists of fruits and vegetables that look like the human organs they are good for floating around the internet–not surprisingly avocados look like a woman’s womb!

For the Chocolate Coconut Avocado Ice Cream I made, I threw into my Vitamix:  1/2 avocado, 2 tablespoons lite coconut milk from a can (you can use the extra in curry, or freeze in an ice cube tray like this for future smoothies), 2 tablespoons of agave syrup, 1/2 tablespoon of coconut oil, 2 tablespoons of raw cacao powder (my new love), and 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla.  If you have a whole avocado or two, just double or quadruple the amounts.  After blending to a creamy smooth consistency, I poured it into my ice cream maker and let it roll.  It only took about 5 minutes due to the small quantity — basically the time it took to clean the dishes!  You could also pour your mixture into ramekins and chill and eat as pudding. It is SOOO good!

So creamy!  I garnished with some dried coconut and toasted almonds

So creamy! I garnished with some dried coconut and toasted almonds

This ice cream is so creamy and rich.  I only eat one scoop at a time (not three) because it is very filling!  Out of curiosity I plugged in the nutritional values for the ingredients and came up with this for 1 oz. of Chocolate Avocado Ice Cream:  78 calories, 6g fat, 1.7 g sat. fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 4 mg sodium, 8.6 g carbs, 2.1 g fiber, 5.6 g sugar, and .8 g protein.  Happily, my vegan and gluten free friends can enjoy it as well! 🙂

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Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 3.12.37 PM

In other news, I just want to give a shout out to people in the New Jersey area!  This Saturday (September 20), I will be at the 2014 Princeton Children’s Book Festival signing books with my husband, Denis (and author of Hush Little Monster), and Anne Rockwell (author of numerous books, including  Truck Stop). We are so fortunate to be included in such an amazing gathering of authors and illustrators.  Favorites, such as Brian Floca (2014 Caldecott Winner), Brian Lies, David Kirk, Sophie Blackall, Fiona Robinson, Peter Brown, Pseudonymous Bosch (one of Jamie’s favorites), Jon Scieska, Mary Rose Wood, and a whole boatload of others will be there.  Check out the list here.  If you do make it out, be sure to stop by our table and say “hello”!

Chocolate Coconut Avocado Ice Cream

1 ripe avocado, halved, pit removed

1/4 cup lite coconut milk from a can

1/4 cup agave syrup

 1 tablespoon coconut oil (in liquid form)

1/4 cup raw cacao powder (or unsweetened cocoa powder)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.  Put all ingredients into a blender or food processor and puree until completely smooth and creamy.

2.  Pour into an ice cream make and churn according to manufacturer’s directions.  Alternatively, pour into a metal bowl and put in freezer and stir every 15 minutes until thick and creamy.

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Filed under Books, Desserts, Vegan, Vegetarian

High Fiber Smoothies: From Dumbledore’s “Drink of Despair” to Strawberry Bliss

Strawberry Banana High Fiber Smoothie

These days with the end of school looming and book events (not to mention book deadlines!), I haven’t been cooking anything terribly new or exciting.  I haven’t been baking either.

For my birthday, this past Sunday, I told my husband I wanted to bake my own cake, but I ended up pressed for time and resorted to a box mix! (Hangs head in shame.)

This mix is actually quite good in a pinch. You can make single servings too — 2 tablespoons mix to 1 tablespoons plain yogurt — that’s it!

I don’t have a picture of the final, as it wasn’t particularly drool worthy, but it held the candles fine!

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Quickie breakfasts have been smoothies.  There are so many great smoothie recipes out there, ranging from decadent and dessert-like to healthy green monsters made with kale.  Mine fall somewhere in the middle.

One ingredient I haven’t seen on other blogs which I use regularly in my smoothies is pysillium husk.  That’s right, people, the stuff in Metamuscil.

I buy it in raw, tasteless form at the healthy food store.

I originally tried it when I was pregnant and needed extra fiber.  I didn’t want the added sugar (I was a borderline gestational diabetic) or artificial sweeteners found in Metamuscil– it also has more fiber than Metamuscil (6.7 g unsoluble fiber to 3 g).

The downside is that it doesn’t dissolve as well in water.  And you have to drink a lot of water with it and FAST (or it turns into a gel before your gaping eyes).  The result is a nasty consistency of quicksand.

I used to gag it down as fast as humanly possible.  It was redubbed “my horcrux”, referring to the Drink of Despair in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

After giving birth, the psyllium husk stayed hidden away in the recesses of our cupboards for years.  It made a brief appearance when I tried to pass it onto a friend who was also pregnant with gestational diabetes.  She gave it back to me, saying it was impossible for her to ever drink it after trying once.

Cut to the present.  Ever since I received my beloved blender, I’ve been having smoothies almost every day.  Jamie loves them too, and we often make them for a play date snack.  I let them choose the ingredients. It’s fun to experiment.

I like really thick, creamy ones, and I’ve seen some versions made with a lot of ice and xanthan gum and guar gum to get this effect.  I couldn’t find the guar gum, and I didn’t like the xanthan gum alone, so I decided to try it with my old psyllium husk since it was still hanging out in the pantry.  I was pleasantly surprised by the results!  It thickens the smoothie beautifully.  It’s not “gummy” like the xanthun gum alone.  A side benefit is that it has all the extra fiber too.  So now, it’s become a regular ingredient in my morning smoothies.  I cannot believe it is the same evil “potion” I used to have to force myself to drink!

For my smoothies, I use:

about 3/4 cup liquid (milk, almond milk, water, juice, coconut milk, coconut water, etc.)

about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup frozen fruit (banana, mango, strawberry, blueberry, pineapple, grapes) or raw fruit (apple, orange, raspberries, etc.) or vegetable (baby spinach -haven’t tried kale yet!)

2-3 ice cubes, depending on how much frozen fruit I use

1 tablespoon raw psyllium husk powder

Other occasional extras are: cocoa powder, protein powder, roasted peanut flour, chia seeds, flax seeds, (though not a HUGE fan of using seeds, because bits still get stuck in my teeth even after blending), peanut butter, yogurt, Torani flavored syrups

I’ve also seen smoothies made with nuts (cashews soaked in milk, other nut butters), silken tofu, and avocado but I haven’t tried them yet!

My favorite breakfast smoothies these days are:

  • strawberry banana (with vanilla protein powder and stevia)
  • peanut butter chocolate (with peanut butter, peanut flour, cocoa powder, chocolate protein powder, and stevia)
  • coconut pineapple (coconut milk, frozen pineapple chunks, dried coconut, vanilla protein powder)
  • creamsicle (orange juice, milk, Torani French Vanilla syrup, vanilla protein powder)

All are made with some ice and psyllium powder!

To make, put in the liquid first, then the powder(s), nuts and/or nut butters, and seeds, if using, then the fruit, and ice.  Blend until smooth and creamy.

Have fun experimenting! 🙂

This is Strawberry Banana with vanilla protein powder, Lactaid, water, ice, psyllium powder, and a pinch of stevia — Sooo creamy and delicious!

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Filed under Breakfast, Children, Snack, Vegetarian

Green Egg and Avocado Salad and Saint Patrick’s Day Reunion

My friend, Jennifer, came to visit us on Saint Patrick’s Day this past weekend.  We hadn’t seen each other since 1993!  That was many lifetimes ago when we were both graduate students of Linguistics at Stanford. We had a wonderful morning together catching up and reminiscing.

The year I met Jennifer, my second year of grad school, was the lowest point in my life. I realized I was on the wrong path.

The day I actually made the concrete decision to leave academia was when I was staying with Jennifer and her family in Los Angeles during an LSA (Linguistic Society of America) conference.  Surrounded by brilliant scholars passionate about their work, I felt like an impostor and completely disconnected.  During one of the conference days I cut out and met my dad and his wife for lunch.  We had a long heart to heart talk.  They were amazingly supportive and told me to “go for it” — to pursue my dream of illustrating and writing children’s books.

I also took it as a “sign” that Jennifer’s mom, Caroline Arnold, was (and still is!) an amazing award winning children’s book author and illustrator of over a hundred books.

I dropped out of my program at the end of that year (my department was nice enough to grant me an MA!)  I went to art school in Pasadena and later came to NYC to pursue a career in children’s books.

Jennifer continued successfully at Stanford and eventually became a professor of Psycholinguistics at University of North Carolina.  We had lost touch for many years, but reconnected recently on Facebook.

If you told me nineteen years ago during my “life crisis” that I would someday be having brunch with Jennifer in Brooklyn in 2012, happily married and having my dream career (even sharing a publisher with her mom!), it would seem TOO good to be true.  It is also surprising and wonderful that we both have sons just months apart in age!

Her visit made me remember how blessed I am.  In a visceral, tears-of-joy kind of way.  I am SO lucky to have such supportive people in my life and to have had the opportunity to pursue my passion–no matter how crazy and out of reach it seemed at the time.

This Saint Patrick’s Day was more like a second Thanksgiving Day for me — as corny as that sounds!

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Green egg salad in Romaine lettuce leaf--it looked "greener" in person!!

Here is a belated green dish to commemorate Saint Patrick’s Day that I had made the day before.  I used my whipped cottage cheese for extra nonfat protein, but you could substitute mayonnaise.

Unwhipped new container of cottage cheese.

After processing -- silky smooth!

Green Egg and Avocado Salad

3 hard boiled eggs, chopped

3 tablespoons whipped cottage cheese (or mayonnaise)

1 tablespoon minced onion

kosher salt to taste

pepper to taste

1/2 ripe avocado, mashed

1.  Mix together and use as a dip, as a sandwich spread, or as part of an hors d’ Oeuvre.

On pita chip

Pita Chips

1 pita

non-stick spray

kosher salt or other seasonings

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2.  Cut pita in half, then fourths, then eighths.  Split each triangle into one layer.

3.  Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil.  Spray with non-stick spray.  Lay pita triangles in a single layer and spray again.  Season with salt or other seasonings.

4.  Bake, watching closely (thinner triangles brown faster) for about 6-9 minutes.  Cool.

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Filed under Lunch, Snack, Uncategorized