Friday, November 29, 2013

Why is organic food so important in our life?


We all know it’s more expensive and harder to find, but why buy organic, really?

Do you know how many people have health problems nowadays because of the continuously intake of processed food? After years taking these terrible products we find in the market today, many problems have arisen and become more popular, even in younger people. I’m talking about the big C (I mean cancer), heart problems in general, clogged arteries, strokes, obesity, asthma, and so on.

Did you know that 90% of the grains you find in the supermarket are in fact genetically modified (GMO – genetically modified organisms)? Yes, that’s right. I’m talking about wheat, soya, rice, beans, corn, etc. The majority of seeds come from Monsanto (oh, how much I hate this stupid company) and they are in all parts of the world, all over the 5 continents, end up in our supermarkets and consequently our table without anybody really knowing.

[Monsanto not only uses very cancerigenous pesticides in all their crops but genetically modify all kinds of products so they look perfect, last longer in your fridge or shelf and are available throughout the year. Have you ever asked yourself why strawberries, for example, are available now all year round when in fact when we were kids (or our parents were kids) it was a seasonal fruit? Because in fact IT IS a seasonal fruit and you’re supposed to find it fresh in the supermarket for about 3 months a year only. This is just an example, and Monsanto is just one of these horrible corporations that really don’t care about you and your family’s health. In fact I try to stay away (as much as possible) from all the big names: Nestlé, Kraft, Unilever….]

And that’s true, nobody knows what they are eating anymore, with the exception of a few countries in Africa and Europe, people have no idea where their food comes from. Especially if we talk about meat and poultry. It really hurts my heart to know such horrible things they do to these animals before they end up at the local supermarket and find their way to your belly. If you are interested in knowing more about the subject, please watch this documentary: Food, Inc. Food, Inc. (2008) Posterfrom 2008.

But beware of the truthful, yet horrifying scenes you’re about to see. I honestly couldn’t get passed the first half of the film, and I am a vegetarian who occasionally eats chicken or turkey. So you can imagine….. My husband, on the other hand, who absolutely loves meat, in all forms, changed his view completely after this documentary and now eats meat about once a month, just because he LOVES it and cannot stay away from it completely!

We only buy organic everything now and I’ll tell you from personal experience that there is nothing better. Not only it tastes better and fresher but we feel more energized, faster fulfilled and most importantly relieved and guilt-free. The fruits are lighter weighted, the veggies have more color and nothing gets really stuck in the container of your juicer after you dispose of all the pulp and peel. Even the beets don’t stain, seriously. The juice is liquid just like water and no after taste. The grapes have a fresher taste, without that annoying feeling of something stuck to your tongue at the end and the chicken breast is properly sized, none of that nonsense we see out there, full of hormones and antibiotics. They run free and are free to nest, as it should be.

Even my cats eat organic and it’s totally worth the price. What you have to remember is that by taking care of your health now you’ll actually save money in the long run, by avoiding visits to the doctor and the hospital and that alone makes a lot of sense to me.

I’ve mentioned before on the blog (the old one that was unfortunately lost) that I would love to go vegan, but it’s really hard for me because I’m a pastry chef and I LOVE butter and milk and eggs and flour, as you would imagine, and that’s why the way for me to do better was to only buy organic. Better for me and my family, better for the local economy and local farmers who need to put food on their table too and better for the animals, plants and environment in general. Find your way to do better too. Life thanks you and you feel it in your heart.

I find it really hard to see how people are treating the lives of others, be it animals, plants or even human beings as nothing worth appreciating. Treating life with not even a drop of respect and expecting to receive health, respect and power in return. I’m talking about the big corporations, again, which I disgust with all my being, but also about you reading this post, you who buys from these companies and never looks back to see what’s being done to these poor beings out there.

I still believe in a world where we can value the food we eat and the lives we take for our own survival. I’m not saying everybody should be vegan, what I’m saying is that if you want to eat meat, you gotta respect the life you’re taking and honor the animal who died for you. I’m completely in favor of hunting if it is for food supply, if it is for your family and if you are well aware of what you are doing. Why not? The world would definitely be a better place and people like me, who cannot envision themselves hunting, would be  vegetarian, and people who do love meat would eat it as much as once a week, which sounds perfectly all right in my book.

So, think about that the next time you have a big juicy burger or steak, the next time you eat butter or drink milk, the next time you have a salad with cheese on it, the next time you eat chicken or eggs and especially the next time you visit your local supermarket to buy food. Search, investigate, don’t settle for anything less than organic, free run and grass fed meat, organic veggies and fruits and mainly certified organic grains and flour. Nature thanks you! Your body thanks you! Your family will too.

*But don’t just take my word for it. If you’re willing to search more about the subject I suggest a few articles online and a few other documentaries that could change your life.



Organic Lemon Coconut Cake



A twist on a simple traditional lemon cake makes it healthier and tastier with the addition of coconut sugar and oil.

This super healthy recipe will have you coming back for more because it is absolutely delicious!

Be sure to use only organic ingredients to profit from all the goodness this cake has to offer. It might be a little more expensive, but your body will thank you and in the long run you will actually save money by eating less and not going to the doctor so often.

Enjoy a wonderful cake with your family and friends and make sure to appreciate every bite of this delicious healthy treat.


Lemon Coconut Cake with lemon glaze

*The bread pan that I used for this cake is really big so there was no dome at the top once my cake rose in the oven. If you want the dome effect, make sure to use a smaller fruit cake pan.


2 1/4 cup organic all purpose flour

1 tsp organic baking powder

1 tsp organic baking soda

1/4 tsp organic pink salt

3/4 cup organic coconut oil (paste)

1 cup organic coconut sugar

3/4 cup organic maple sugar

zest of 2 organic lemons

3 free run organic eggs

1/2 cup juice of 1 or 2 organic lemons

1/2 cup organic buttermilk (1/2 cup organic milk with 1/2 tsp organic vinegar)


1 1/2 cup organic icing sugar

2 tbsp juice of organic lemon



1- Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Grease cake pan.

2- In a bowl, mix together all dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

3- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat coconut oil with sugars and the zest of 2 lemons until homogenous.

4- Add the eggs, 1 at a time and beat until completely incorporated.

5- Add the buttermilk and lemon juice in steps, alternating with the dry ingredients. Beat until incorporated.

6- Pour the batter into a bread/ fruit cake pan, previously greased.

7- Bake at 350 F for about 45- 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.

8- When cake is completely cool mix the 2 ingredients for the glaze and pour on top of the cake slowly.

9- Allow it to dry before cutting the cake.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Mouthwatering Lasagna

This Turkey and Cheese Lasagna recipe is so easy and so delicious that it became a staple in my house. We usually make it for Sunday lunch and when there is any left, which is rare, we serve it the next day and it surprisingly still tastes great if not even better.
Using turkey makes it a healthier alternative to ham or meat lasagna, but if you want a vegetarian version, just substitute turkey for steamed spinach stir-fried with some olive oil and garlic. It’s also one of my favorites and it tastes just as good.
*What kind of pasta should I use?
Well, there are two types of lasagna sheets, the dry ones and the fresh ones. I definitely prefer fresh pasta for this recipe because it’s easier to use and you get a better result. But maybe you can only find dry sheets and that’s ok too. Just be careful when lining the pan not to break the sheets. The instructions to build the lasagna are the same, but make sure you add a little more sauce to help it cook properly.
*How many layers should I use and what combinations should I make for the filling?
You can make as many layers as you’d like, but I personally believe 4 layers are more than enough, in fact my lasagna pan holds exactly 4 layers, and my grandma, who was Italian, used to make it with 4 as well. I learned from her that the top layer should be cheese so you should always start with béchamel + meat/ turkey/ spinach or whatever you decide to use and the second layer should be: pasta + tomato sauce + cheese. That way, when you get to the top layer it will always be tomato sauce and cheese.
You can make many different combinations, using any kind of meat or veggies (bolognese, shredded chicken, turkey, spinach, ricotta cheese, feta cheese, olives, etc) and a sauce (béchamel, Alfredo, pesto, tapenade, etc). But try to use the tomato sauce + cheese combination for the top layer to keep it a little traditional.
*How much sauce, meat, cheese is necessary?
Well, it is important to cover all the pasta with sauce, even the corners to make sure it doesn’t dry out in the oven. With that in mind:
My pan is about 13’’ X 8’’ or 33cm X 20.3cm. I use 1 pack of turkey breast with about 400g and the same amount of cheese, sometimes a little more (500g should be enough). 1 glass container of tomato sauce () and the béchamel recipe usually yields a little more than needed. The lasagna sheets usually come in 2 packs (at Costco) and 1 is more than enough.
*What do I do with leftovers?
I use them for cannelloni or manicotti (with ricotta and spinach or veggies). 1 pack of lasagna sheets that I simply roll with the filling of choice and the leftover béchamel.
cannelloni or manicotti
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Lasagna sheets (fresh pasta – ready for use, no boil)
Béchamel sauce or Alfredo sauce (I used homemade béchamel – recipe follows)
Organic tomato sauce
Turkey breast (cold cuts – the ones used for sandwiches)
Mozzarella cheese (sliced or grated)
Parmigiano cheese (grated)
1- Start by spreading a little of the tomato sauce all over the pan to make sure the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom.
2- Start layering the pasta, cut the excess parts and place them closely to fill up the whole pan, from side to side. There will be 4 layers of pasta in total.
3- The bottom layer is topped with béchamel sauce and turkey. Spread the béchamel all over the pasta and cover it with slices of turkey, don’t overlay or it will be too meaty later.
4- Cover it with pasta
5- The next layer is topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. Spread the tomato sauce all over the pasta and add the mozzarella.
6- Cover it with pasta.
7- Proceed with another layer of béchamel and turkey and cover it with pasta.
8- Proceed with another layer of tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. This is the last layer /top layer.
9- Sprinkle Parmigiano on top of the mozzarella and cover the whole pan with aluminum foil, closing tightly.
10- Bake it at 350 F at the bottom rack of the oven for about 30 minutes.
11- Remove the aluminum foil and bake it at the top rack of the oven until it starts to boil. If the cheese is not completely melted by then, turn on the broiler and wait for the gratin effect (browning/ caramelization). 
It’s ready to eat.
Cover it tightly with ceramic wrap and keep it in the fridge for a delicious lunch or dinner the next day.
For the homemade béchamel:
Honestly I never really measure the butter and flour, but the ratio should be as it follows.
1- Add 2 generous tablespoons of cold butter to a warm pan (medium heat).
2- Once it’s completely melted, remove from heat and add about 1 cup of flour to it. Mix well with a whisk until incorporated (it will turn into a paste or like coarse meal)
3- Add about 700ml of milk directly to the pan and keep whisking out of the heat. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.
4- Back on medium heat keep whisking until completely incorporated and thickened.
5- Keep it in the pan covered with a plastic wrap (touching the sauce) to keep the top from drying out.
How to fix problems with consistency:
- If it ends up not as thick as you’d like, just add a little more flour directly to the pan, whisking strongly to avoid lumps or dissolve 1 tablespoon of flour into 1 tablespoon of milk in a separate glass and add slowly to the sauce while whisking. It should do the trick.
- If you end up with a very thick sauce and would like to make it more runny, just add more hot milk at the end while whisking until you get the desired consistency. Just keep in mind that the sauce will thicken a little more after it starts to cool down.

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Thanks :)