London’s climate this past weekend:
An enchanting collection of islands in the Indian Ocean balancing by virtue of its location and history striking tropical beauty and a devotion to religious spirituality.
Vacationing here is a speedboat trip to the senses: from dipping in the crystal clear turquoise ocean to touching the soft white sandy beaches to savoring the delicious Indian inspired food to relaxing to the healing scent of coconut oil during a traditional Asian massage to hearing the Friday call to prayer in Arabic from a small local island next to the resort… A humble traditional country drizzled by luxury resorts attracting the world to dots barely visible on the world map… The many contrasts invite you to relax, reflect and be inspired…
The last stretch of winter is the toughest. You’re sick and tired of the gloomy weather, beaten by the cold and worn-out by the toll of heavy coats and layers on your shoulders. When these blues hit me, I take shelter in my kitchen where I always end up finding my remedy: Hello food innovation! Here are a couple of cold-weather-worthy recipes to try shortly before kissing wintertime goodbye!
I find that cabbage is usually not given its turn in most people’s diet from both gastronomical and nutritional perspectives. When raw, it’s commonly associated with abdominal conditions (such as bloating and flatulence) and is often kept away from cooking pots, as many find the smell of dissipating sulfur compounds in cooked cabbage unpleasant. Work around its minimal drawbacks and you’ll discern a smooth texture, a sumptuous flavor and a distinguished comfort in this winter veggie, a really great fix for cold days! You’ll also benefit from a great dose of vitamins such as vitamin K, vitamin C and folic acid in as little as 20 calories in a serving (75g).
Here is my favorite approach to savor cabbage:
*For a better digestion: parboil before cooking
*To mask its sulfuric smell: add some lemon juice and/or herbs (such as fresh or dried mint) to the cooking water
Cabbage Cigars is a melting-in-mouth dish! Cabbage leaves are stuffed in minced beef, rice and spices and seasoned with sautéed onion, garlic, mint and lemon juice. Here’s my recipe:
(Makes 6 servings)
1 whole cabbage
- 1 cup of sushi or Egyptian rice
- ½ lbs. of ground beef
- 1 tsp. of each: black pepper, allspice, ground cinnamon and salt
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 1 head of garlic peeled (half of the cloves mashed and the other half left to distribute between rolls)
- 3 Tsp. of crushed (dried or fresh) mint
- 1 cup of lemon juice
- 1-2 cup of water (or just enough to cover the cabbage in pot)
- 2 Tsp. of vegetable oil
Blanch the cabbage leaves in boiling water until they are tender. Cut the leaves in half if necessary and take the thick stems out (save them to line pot). Mix the meat with rice and spices and put aside. Stir-fry onion, garlic and mint in vegetable oil in the bottom of the pot then line the pot with the cabbage stems. Stuff the leaves by placing a tablespoon of the filling mixture in the middle and rolling it like a cigar. Place each stuffed leaf in the pot, one tight layer at a time. Add some garlic cloves here and there. Place a small plate on the cabbage rolls to hold them in place and to avoid the stuffing from coming out. Pour the lemon juice over the rolls and add water to cover the cabbage. Cook for about 1 hour over low heat or until the leaves are very tender and the stuffing is well cooked. Serve warm with plain Greek yogurt or with a minty cucumber yogurt accompaniment. Yum, trop chou!
Spinach is a treasure food for a light and healthy cuisine. Rich in water, super light in calories and unlike other veggies, its nutritional profile is enhanced once it’s cooked. Known for being packed in iron, thanks to Popeye, spinach also provides an exceptional amount of other vitamins and minerals (vitamin A, vitamin B9, vitamin K, magnesium and manganese). Furthermore, some antioxidants in spinach are particularly beneficial for the eyes.
Spinach stew is a zesty wholesome dish, a great consolation on cooler days. Moreover, lemon complements spinach perfectly as it enhances beautifully its flavor and improves iron absorption. Here’s my recipe:
Makes 6 servings
- 1 kg of frozen chopped spinach
- ½ lbs. minced beef
- 1 onion
- 3 cloves of garlic
- ½ cup Lemon juice
- 1 bouquet of fresh cilantro
- ½ tsp. of: black pepper, allspice, 7 spice mixture (optional)
- 1 tsp. of salt
- 2 Tsp. of vegetable oil
- 1-2 cups of water
Blend the garlic and cilantro into a paste and stir-fry it in vegetable oil on the side. Stir-fry the onion in main pot with the rest of the vegetable oil. Add the meat and cook it while breaking it into very small pieces. Add the spices and salt. Cover the meat with the spinach and add water. Let it cook for 15-20 minutes. Add the lemon juice, cilantro-garlic paste, and stir all the ingredients together. Cover the pot again and cook for 5 more minutes. Serve warm with whole grain rice.
Since NYC has become an icebox in the past few days and because the 3rd trimester is looming on the horizon and promising to be quite a rollercoaster with discomfort making its big comeback and a long list of preparations in anticipation for the big baby # 2 day, it was time for one last sunny Hooray! Hello Babymoon!
My Babymoon Planning Checklist:
• Consult with OB prior to booking to make sure it is safe to travel and because some destinations require prior vaccination
• Timing: 2nd trimester (week 18 to 24) is the safest time for pregnant women to travel
– Would like South Africa but need relaxation more than adventure at the moment so –> any amazing beach
– Short travel time is ideal but will not compromise on the beach
– Somewhere with good medical facilities
• Result: Hawaii (I know I’m pushing it a bit with the 11hour flight time!)
On the plane:
• Wear compression socks, comfortable clothes and layers to account for the various temperatures during transit
• Keep feet elevated if possible and don’t cross legs to help prevent leg swelling
• Get up and walk around every hour or so to aid blood circulation
• Keep hydrated
My Beach Packing List (I’ll only share the essentials here…I’m not a light packer!):
• Don’t forget the prenatal vitamins
• Plenty of sunscreen to avoid dark pregnancy patches in the sun
• Hand gel sanitizer and sanitizing wipes
• Fill iPhone with the latest hit tunes and delete all pictures to make space for new ones
• Lots of bikinis
• Jelly sandals
• Light flowy clothes