Friday, December 21, 2012

0 Healthy Holiday Menu Ideas

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Here are a few sample holiday dinner menu ideas to help you plan and organize your holiday food prep. Of course, you'll need to adjust the number of courses you'll be making to suit the number of guests you'll be serving. Please note that each menu section is grouped by skill/difficulty level. Generally, the easier the recipe, the less time it'll take to make it; and of course, the reverse is often true as well. And of course, every menu has links to recipes from this blog. :)

Happy Holidays!

Healthy Holiday Menu Ideas:

Level: EASY (Requires beginner level cooking skills and minimal prep time)

Sample Menu #1 (Carnivores): (French-Style Holiday Dinner)
Note: This French-themed menu has enough hearty dishes to make sure that no one goes hungry. :) Not only does this meal satisfy, it also has an air of sophistication about it as well.
Appetizer(s): Black Olive Tapenade, served with crudités and crusty, toasted slices of French bread. (Baguettes are the perfect size for slicing into bite-sized rounds.)
First Course: Wild Mushroom Soup.
Second Course: Lemon-Thyme-Tarragon Vinaigrette on a Bed of Watercress Greens.
Main Course: Filet Mignon au Poivre et au Lavande (Lavender & Black Peppercorn Crusted Steak).
Side Dishes: Lavender-Infused Potatoes with Garlic & Fennel, Cranberry Sauce Spiked with Cointreau, and Celeriac Remoulade (Céleri Rémoulade / Rémoulade de Céleri-rave).
Dessert(s): Cherry Clafouti with Almonds & Pistachios and Blueberry-Lemon Pots de Crème.

Sample Menu #2 (Vegan/Vegetarian):
Appetizer(s):  Creamy Red Hot Pepper Dip, served with crudités, crackers, &/or baked chips of some sort, and Italian-Style Marinated Vegetable Salad (Antipasto).
First Course: Kale-Potato-Leek Soup.
Second Course: Cucumber, Tomato, & Artichoke Salad.
Main Course: Mushroom-Olive Quinoa Pilaf with Fresh Herbs.
Side Dishes: Ginger-Garlic Baby Carrots and Quick & Easy Italian-style Beet Greens.
Dessert(s): Apricot-Papaya Pudding Parfait and Pear & Apple Crisp.

Level: MEDIUM (Requires intermediate level cooking skills and a moderate amount of prep time)

Sample Menu #1 (Carnivores): (Italian-Style Holiday Dinner):
Appetizer(s): Caponata Siciliana, served on ciabatta (or grilled zucchini, if you'd rather not eat bread).
First Course: Zuppa di Spinaci (Italian-Style Spinach Soup).
Second Course: Insalata Caprese con Finocchio e Olive (Caprisian Salad with Fennel & Olives).
Main Course: Chicken with Lemon-Caper Sauce (Pollo con Salsa di Capperi e Limone).
Side Dishes: Savory Stelline with Fresh Herbs & Sun-dried Tomatoes and Italian-Style Sautéed Broccoli with Fresh Herbs.
Dessert(s): Tantalizingly Transcendent Tiramisù and Baked Figs (in Marsala Wine).

Sample Menu #2 (Vegans/Vegetarians):
Appetizer(s): Avocado-Edamame Dip, served with crackers.
First Course: Beet and Fennel Soup.
Second Course: Grilled Hearts of Romaine with Caper-Avocado Dressing.
Main Course: Pumpkin Risotto.
Side Dishes: Cauliflower Mash and Grilled Carrots & Turnips Seasoned With Fresh Herbs & Spices.
Dessert(s): Mango Pie Flavored with Cardamom and Saffron, served with vegan ice cream, and Poached Persimmons.

Level: ADVANCED (Requires advanced level cooking skills and significant prep time. Prep is labor-intensive and elaborate.)

Sample Menu #1 (Carnivores):
Appetizer(s): Mushrooms Canapés Stuffed With Goat Cheese, Kalamata Olives, & Fresh Herbs and Dill-Avocado Dip with Fresh Tarragon & Chives, served with crackers or toasted bread.
First Course: Pumpkin Soup with Fresh Sage, Rosemary, and Basil.
Second Course: Hearts of Romaine with Tri-Colored Roasted Bell Peppers, Eggplant Croutons, & Lemon-Sumac Dressing.
Main Course: Herb-Encrusted Rack of New Zealand Baby Lamb.
Side Dishes: Mashed Red-Skinned Potatoes with Roasted Garlic & Fresh Herbs and Grilled Marinated Vegetables.
Dessert(s): Pumpkin Pie and Cherry, Apple, & Pear Tart (Made with Asian & Bosc Pears). (Serve each slice with a scoop of lowfat vanilla ice cream, but of course. :-D)

Sample Menu #2 (Vegans/Vegetarians): (Asian-Style Holiday Dinner)
Appetizer(s): Southeast Asian Summer Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce and Avocado with Sweet Soy Bean Paste.
First Course: Chinese-Style Vegetable Soup.
Second Course: Gimesamwata Sarada (Japanese Salad) and Japanese Ginger Salad Dressing.
Main Course: Stir-fried Chinese Eggplant in a Spicy-Sweet Garlic Sauce.
Side Dishes: Chinese-Style Black Rice Noodle Salad and Asian Jicama Slaw.
Dessert(s): Coconut Sticky Black Rice Pudding with Poached Asian Pears.

Note: If you need beverage/cocktail ideas, feel free to browse the respective tags on this blog.

0 Holiday Entertaining 101: Easy Ideas to Help You Simplify Your Holiday Food Prep

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I wrote the below excerpt (as a draft post) a while ago with the intention of covering the topic of entertaining in general. However, since it's now the holiday season, now seemed like the perfect time to post it. :)

Whether you’re just having a few friends over to watch the game, throwing a birthday bash, inviting guests over for dinner, or hosting a cocktail party, entertaining doesn’t have to be stressful or scary. There are a few, very easy things you can do to ensure that your event will be a smashing success. For starters, let’s first cover some general entertaining tips, and then we’ll get into some specific, event-related food preparation tips.

First of all, no matter what the event or what happens during the event, hosting is all about putting your guests at ease and making them feel welcome. As guests, we all know which kind of hosts and hostesses we tend to gravitate towards – the ones who are kind, considerate, relaxed, gracious, and confident, and can roll with the punches. And, should things go awry, as they sometimes do, they can still laugh at both the situation and themselves. People can forgive almost any party mishap if it’s accompanied by a good sense of humor.

In general, the keys to successful party planning are simple: (1) prepare well in advance, and (2) keep the party prep as quick and easy as possible.

Unless you’re an advanced level chef with a lifetime of culinary experience, now’s not the time to test out that elaborate recipe you’ve always wanted to try. Save the creative experimentation for another time, i.e., for when you can unhurriedly test out your dishes ahead of time in a relaxed atmosphere. And, be sure that any recipe trial runs (and tastings!) are done well before the day of your event. That way, you can work out the kinks beforehand and serve your guests in a timely fashion. As a result, you’ll feel relaxed and confident about the preparation and presentation of the food you’ll be serving to your guests.

The reality is that you’re not going to have as much time as you think to prepare on the day of the event, because you’ll need to take care of much more than just the cooking and setting the table. You’ll need to take care of your guests as well. So, don’t leave too many general to-do’s, cooking, and kitchen tasks to the last minute. (You’ll probably want to clean or at least tidy up your house before the guests arrive too, so you’ll want to carve out some time for that as well.) Also, during the event itself, you’ll most likely be multitasking and moving around a lot, so anything you can take care of in advance will be one less thing you’ll have to do on the day of the event. Take into account that you’ll want to have enough time to pull yourself together and decompress a bit before your party begins as well. The last thing you’ll want to do is to start frantically running around and freaking out about something that hasn’t been done yet only moments before your guests arrive. Guests can sense the type of energy a host or hostess gives off like a heat-seeking missile, and they typically take their cues from them too. So, if you relax, your guests will relax too. Advanced preparation is not just good for your guests, but it’s good for your blood pressure too.

So, with that in mind, try to get as much of the prep work done in advance. A lot of dishes – like sauces, soups, and casseroles -- can be made well ahead of time and then refrigerated, or in some cases, even frozen up until the day of the party. Again, anything frozen will require thawing time, so remember to plan for that as well.

If you’re pressed for time or just don’t have the wherewithal to make all of the food for a party yourself, keep in mind that it’s perfectly OK to take the easy route: For dips, crudités, and other simple platters, you can often find selections at your local grocery store, or at wholesale stores with deli counters and grocery aisles like Costco, BJ’s, or Sam’s Club. For any unlabelled product from the deli counter, be sure to ask about its ingredients, so you can inform guests, should they have any dietary restrictions. Also, whenever and wherever possible, enlist help, whether it be your family, friends, or a professional. Chances are, the people in your life will be happy that you asked. Or, if it’s a sizeable event and you have the means, hire a caterer and/or events planner. If you have a particular nutritional lifestyle, many caterers will prepare special food (i.e., vegan, gluten-free, kosher, etc.) upon request.

Plan out your menu in advance and figure out how much food to make or supply. To help you out in that regard, consider the following guidelines:

(1) When estimating amounts per person, always round up versus down. If you have a large guest list or will be entertaining for several hours, make sure you make enough food. You can always offer leftovers to the guests as they’re leaving, or just refrigerate or freeze them whenever possible. Homeless shelters and other relief organizations will also typically accept fresh surplus food as well.

(2) It’s easier to offer less courses and provide more food per course than to provide more choices and less servings. For the items you anticipate will be popular, offer them in bulk.

(3) Use these general portion size guidelines for figuring out how much to serve to each guest:
  • Beverages: about 1 - 2 c. (8-16 fl. oz.) per person per hour. (Usually 3 c. total per person will do for most events.)
  • Hors d'oeuvres: about 4-6 servings per person total when followed by a full meal, and about 4-6 servings per person (per hour) when they are the only selections offered at a party.
  • Soup: about 1 c. per person as a first course, and about 1 1/2 - 2 c. per person as a main course. In the latter case, if you are serving a lot of different appetizers, you might want to consider dropping that amount to 1 – 1 1/2 c. per person.
  • Salad: about 1 c. per person for raw salads and about 1/2 c. for cooked. (The standard estimate is 1 oz., but for most people, it’s too much trouble to weigh each portion of salad.)
  • Side dishes: 1/2 c. vegetables or rice per person and 1/4 c. pasta or legumes (as a side dish) per person.
  • Main course: about 4-6 oz. (or about a deck of cards) per person. If there are multiple main courses, about 2-3 oz. (or 1/2 a deck of cards) per person. (Normally, 3-4 oz. per person is the recommended amount for an everyday meal, but with parties, that calculation goes straight out the window. Also, athletes can be some particularly hungry guests, particularly after working out.)
  • Desserts: 1 slice of pie, tart, cake, or other pastry per person. If you’ll be serving multiple desserts, reduce each serving to about 1/3 – 1/2 c. per person. Calculate about 1/2 c. of ice cream, pudding, mousse, or other soft and creamy dessert per person.

The next post will provide a list of healthy gourmet menu ideas, to help you plan your holiday feasts accordingly.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

0 Recipe #332: Muscle-Building Protein Recovery Shake

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As mentioned in the previous post, I'm posting a protein recovery shake from our book, 7 Weeks to 10 Pounds of Muscle, to celebrate the fact that our manuscript is now finally heading off to the printers. Of course, as you can probably tell from the book title, this recipe is especially geared towards those of you who want to build some serious lean muscle mass.

This post-workout recovery shake is meant to be taken within 15 minutes of finishing your strength training workout. It contains the ideal mix of muscle-building elements:

  • Easily digestible contents (in liquid or pulverized form). By making this shake in a blender, you’re breaking down solids into liquids, which means your body doesn’t have to do so, and so, more quickly absorbs its nutrients.
  • Lean, high-protein sources containing 3 out of 3 branched-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) and Omega-3 fatty acids. The first aids in protein synthesis while the latter helps reduce post-exercise inflammation. 
  • Fast-acting, high GI/GL carbs, which favor pure glucose sources to aid in the production of insulin, in order to move nutrients to muscles and vital organs. 
  • Minimal fat. Minimal post-exercise fat intake is generally recommended, unless you’re having trouble gaining weight.
  • Alkalizing (i.e., acid-buffering) ingredients to aid in muscle tissue repair and recovery, and thus, counter the effects of a high-intensity workout. Alkalizing foods help build muscle, whereas acidizing foods will actually break it down. This is why it’s so important to consume highly alkalizing post workout foods. 
  • Antioxidants, for removing toxic free-radicals that interfere with muscle-building (and can actually cause muscle damage). Eat antioxidative foods for improved muscle tissue repair.

Muscle-Building Protein Recovery Shake

1/2 c. crushed ice
1/4 c. deglet noor (i.e., common) dates
1/4 c. dried Turkish (i.e., common) apricots
1/4 c. banana, broken into quarters (1 large banana)
1 pint (2 c.) red raspberries
1/3 c. whey protein isolate powder (about 1 scoop)
1 pint (2 c.) milk
1/4 c. pineapple juice (not from concentrate)
1 Tbsp. honey

Directions: Add all solid ingredients to a blender first, followed by liquid ingredients and pulse until smooth and creamy. Pour into glasses and drink up!

Yield: About 24 oz. (or 3 servings of 1 c. each).

0 What's to Come: Books, Books, and More Books!

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To celebrate the fact that our 7 Weeks to 10 Pounds of Muscle manuscript is now finally heading off to the printers, I'm going to post a protein recovery shake especially geared towards those of you who want to build some serious lean muscle mass. That recipe's up next.

As for the other book projects, The Vegan Athlete is now in print, and so now that both of these two books have been completed,  there are only two more books (that is, books with upcoming deadlines), left to write. :) Currently I'm in the process of testing the recipes I've written for Paleo Fitness while simultaneously creating new recipes for The Athlete's Cookbook as well. It's nice to finally have only two books to write &/or edit at once. Lol. Then, after these projects, my tentatively titled healthy gourmet cookbook, Cooking with Corey: Healthy Gourmet Recipes Packed with Flavor, Humor, & Attitude, is (finally!) up next. So those of you who've asked me 5 zillion times when the heck this book is coming out will probably be very happy about that. :) I really didn't mean to string you along for so long, but other book projects with actual deadlines cropped up along the way. :)

And then after that, I have at least three more cookbook titles in mind -- a cookbook + sports nutrition guide geared towards (athletic) performance-based cooking and eating for runners/endurance athletes, which is tentatively titled Cooking with Coach Corey: High-Performance Recipes for Runners, an as yet untitled healthy cookbook for college students on a budget (one part cooking primer, two parts resourcefulness, and three parts recipe repository), and then if there's enough interest, perhaps also a mixology cookbook, which would include cocktails and mocktails that actually contain some healthy ingredients in them (i.e., Blue Fog Cocktail and the like), so you can feel better about drinking them afterwards. Lol. I couldn't see putting those drinks in any of the other, above-mentioned books (for obvious reasons), so they'll need to go into a separate book of their own. I've slowly been amazing a collection of these original cocktail recipes and have been stashing them away for this very purpose. These aren't your usual cocktails; they are unique drinks I've created that you won't find anywhere else.

Then after that, I might take a break from writing cookbooks, because I know I have at least one sci-fi fantasy novel in me. Sure, that might seem like a huge departure to some, but really, when it comes right down to it, creative writing is creative writing. And who knows, maybe I'll toss in a three-eyed Martian chef into the book. ;) It's not like I haven't ever done what most of you would probably think of as "traditional creative writing" before. Bet most of you didn't know that I wrote screenplays for my university's filmmaking club and and am also a published poet. :-D

OK, as promised, the recovery shake recipe's up next.

0 Recipe #331: Lentil & Black Bean Chili

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People keep asking me for a recipe for vegetarian chili, so finally, here it is. :) Admittedly, there are a lot of backlogged requests in the queue at present; however, slowly but surely, I'm getting around to them, one by one. Time is of the essence, so I have to be very strategic about the way in which I check them off the list. For example, a friend of mine recently requested that I bring a vegetarian dish to her holiday party, so I decided to create a special recipe for the occasion, hence the below creation. :)

Not only is chili super easy to make, but it's great for fall and winter holiday parties (especially when served with baked tortilla chips!) and in cold weather, really hits the spot. Plus, you don't have to be a vegetarian to enjoy vegetarian chili, so that means that this dish can be enjoyed by a wide array of people. An empty chili bowl at a party is always a good sign. :)

If you click on the chili tag on the left sidebar of this blog, you'll see that this blog already has several turkey and beef based chili recipes, but no vegetarian ones, that is, until now. This is highly ironic, considering that, when I first started making chili, I only cooked vegetarian chili. (If you're curious to know why that is, you can read that story here.)

The great thing about chili is that it tastes even better the next day, and the day after that, etc. (Just don't extend that day-after-day analogy to a whole month of refrigeration, or you might find it no longer holds true. Lol.) It also freezes well, so if you're not in the mood to cook, all you have to do is wave your magic wand, and "Poof!" an instant meal will "magically appear" on the table. ;)

Lentil & Black Bean Chili

1 c. red lentils, rinsed and picked over for stones (and other debris)
2 c. boiling hot water (for soaking the lentils)
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 c. yellow onion, peeled and diced (1 small onion)
2 Tbsp. garlic, peeled and finely minced (about 4 large cloves)
1 large bay leaf
1 c. red bell pepper, diced (about 1 medium-sized red bell pepper)
2 c. fresh vine-ripened tomatoes, diced (about 3 large tomatoes)
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 c. water (or organic, low-sodium vegetable broth) (for cooking the chili)
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 15.5 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
6 oz. can tomato paste
2 Tbsp. Dutch processed cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. ground coriander
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. (mild) Mexican-style chili powder
1/2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground oregano
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
1/2  tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper, or to taste (optional)
1/4 c. masa harina de maiz (corn flour)
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped, plus more for garnish

Directions: An hour in advance, soak lentils in 2 c. boiling hot water for 1 hour (or until softened). (You can do this while you're prepping the vegetables.) Then, rinse and drain lentils in a colander and set aside. In a large pot, heat olive oil on high until glistening. Then reduce heat to low, add onion, garlic, bay leaf, and red pepper, and saute for about 5 minutes or until tender. Next add fresh diced tomatoes, followed by the canned, crushed ones, and cook for about a minute. Stir in all of the remaining ingredients, minus the  masa harina de maiz (corn flour) and fresh cilantro, cover with lid, and simmer for 10 minutes. Then, uncover lid, stir, and check liquid levels to make sure chili isn't sticking to the bottom or burning. If necessary, add more water (or broth). Cover again, and cook for another 5 minutes. Uncover again and stir in masa harina de maiz (corn flour). Cook, uncovered for 5 more minutes (or until lentils are soft), then let chili cool for about 5-10 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Stir in cilantro until evenly distributed. If desired, garnish with additional fresh cilantro and serve.

Yield: 7 c.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

0 Recipe #330: Cauliflower Mash with Rosemary & Roasted Garlic

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As promised in the previous post, here's a quick and easy recipe you can make for the holidays. In fact, this is actually one of the dishes that I'll be making for an upcoming holiday family gathering.

Cauliflower mash makes a great alternative to dishes like mashed potatoes and lots of other not-so-healthy side dishes. In fact, cauliflower mash almost tastes like mashed potatoes (and the consistency is very similar!), but of course, it's much more nutritious. :) And the great thing about cauliflower mash is that it goes amazingly well with all sorts of main courses, whether they be fish/seafood, meats like chicken, turkey, beef, or lamb), or vegan/vegetarian courses.

So, instead of serving starchy, food coma-inducing side dishes like potatoes, stuffing, and rice, try substituting cauliflower mash instead. Not only will you be squeaking a vegetable into the meal, but you'll also avoid eating foods with little to no nutritional value; not to mention, those items can really put on the pounds. ;) For a lot of people, the holidays often mean "starch-fest city," so the less empty calories you eat, the less time you'll need to spend working it off afterwards. :) It's always a great feeling knowing that you can still zip your pants after your holiday meal. Lol.

This recipe will appear in the upcoming 7 Weeks to Fitness book, Paleo Fitness. Not only is it Paleo, but it's also vegan, vegetarian, kosher, and gluten-free as well. :) It contains Omega-3-rich walnut oil, instead of butter or olive oil. (The Omega-3's in walnut oil are great for reducing post-exercise inflammation. Olive oil only has Omega-6's, which don't provide the same type of benefits.) The funny thing is that the walnut oil in this dish doesn't even taste like walnuts. It just makes the mash taste creamy and delicious!

Cauliflower Mash with Rosemary & Roasted Garlic

1 1 lb. head cauliflower, quartered and then broken into florets
1 Tbsp. walnut oil, plus a little bit more for roasting garlic (or if unavailable, use extra virgin olive oil)
1 tsp. dried rosemary leaves
1 medium garlic clove, unpeeled (should make about 3/4 tsp. mashed, roasted garlic)
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. salt (omit for Paleo prep)
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

Directions: Preheat toaster oven to 400°F. Place unpeeled garlic clove onto a small piece of aluminium foil, then drizzle with a small amount of walnut oil. Completely wrap garlic in foil, then place onto toaster oven tray and roast in toaster for about 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Meanwhile, place a steamer basket into a large pot, fill it with water until it reaches the bottom of the basket, and then bring to a rolling boil. Then add cauliflower florets, cover, and boil for 15-20 minutes, or until cauliflower is tender. Turn off burner, then pour cauliflower into a colander, and drain. Let it rest there for 1-2 minutes to dry. When garlic has finished roasting, remove it from toaster oven and let cool for 5 minutes, or until cool to the touch. Then peel and mash garlic. Measure out 3/4 tsp. of the mashed garlic, and place this amount into a food processor, followed by the steamed cauliflower. Add remaining ingredients, and process until fluffy. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4-6 servings.

Chef's Notes: You can find walnut oil at places like Whole Foods, etc. And although I haven't yet checked, there's a good chance that places like Wegman's and Trader Joe's might also carry this item as well.

Due to the quantity of cauliflower and/or the size of your food processor, you may have to process the cauliflower a few florets at a time, and then add the remaining ingredients after that.

0 Ho, Ho, Hold on a Minute! :) Helpful Tips for Preserving Your Sanity Over the Holidays

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The holiday season has begun and so has the holiday cooking. :) People everywhere will be cooking like mad to prepare for their holiday gatherings and feasts. And on top of that, they'll be simultaneously trying to juggle a zillion other holiday-related tasks. I often wonder, with all of those to-do's on our holiday checklists, how do we manage to get it all done every year?! But then, when the holidays roll around, quite amazingly, we somehow manage to pull it off. I don't know about you, but sometimes preparing for the holidays feels like this: Alright everybody, on your mark, get set, go! :-D

Amidst the holiday bustle -- from gift shopping and sending out holiday cards to decorating, baking, and cooking -- it can sometimes feel like there's an insurmountable, endless list of things to do and not enough time to do it all. That's where I come in. Never fear, Cyberpenguin is here. :)

For starters, always remember this: if you ever feel like you've taken on a bit too much, you have a few options to keep from losing your mind: do less, simplify, or delegate tasks to others. :) (There might be a fourth or fifth option as well, but hopefully it won't involve beating someone over the head with a spatula. Lol.)

So, in the spirit of preserving your sanity, over the next few days, I'll be providing some useful, sanity-saving tips to help you get thru the holidays. For example, I'll show you how to simplify holiday food prep. I'll also be providing you with some super-quick and easy, holiday-appropriate recipes. So, that way, you can spend less time in the kitchen and redirect your attention elsewhere, like checking off some of those other holiday to-do's on your list. :)

I'll also be posting some holiday menu ideas to give you some healthier options for the holidays. Maybe that way, you won't feel like you'll have to permanently chain yourself to a treadmill for the next two weeks to work it off. ;) Don't get me wrong; holiday food is meant to be enjoyed, but that doesn't necessarily mean that enjoyment must solely be equated with eating unhealthy things. ;)

And so, on that note, I wish all of you a happy, healthy holiday season!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

0 And the Lucky Winner Is....

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The Cooking with Corey giveaway contest has now officially come to a close. So it's time to announce the lucky winner!

(I know I said I was going to announce the winner on December 16th, but things got a bit hectic on my end with holidays events, work, and other happenings, so please pardon the delay. Anyhow....)

And the lucky winner IS.... Drum roll, please.... Jane Ducey! Congratulations, Jane! When you get the chance, please email me your postal address, so I can mail out your gift basket. Hope you will enjoy it, and happy holidays as well!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

0 Reminder: Only 3 More Days to Enter the Giveaway Contest!

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Just a reminder that you have 3 more days to submit your entries for the Cooking with Corey giveaway contest. :) And, you get not one, but two, chances to win the grand prize!

I saw that several people had liked the previous giveaway post via Facebook, and thank you for liking that post, but please know that those "likes" aren't counted as actual entries, since there's no way for me to track people's names as contestants that way. Just so people understand how to enter, I'll explain once more how the contest works:

HOW TO ENTER: To enter, simply retweet this post on Twitter and/or "like" the Cooking with Corey Facebook page. In order for your entries to count, you must "like" the actual Facebook PAGE and NOT related blog POSTS or Facebook POSTS. Liking this post (or any other related posts about the contest on Cooking with Corey Facebook page's wall or elsewhere) doesn't count as an entry, although by all means, you're welcome to "like" these posts. :)

Also, please note that I am keeping track of contestants' names for giveaway contest purposes only, so if you "like" the page and then "unlike" it, that entry won't count either. ;) That's the Facebook equivalent of entering and then un-entering the contest. Lol.

All entries must be received before midnight on Saturday, December 15. A maximum of two (2) entries are allowed per person. So, in other words, the entries can either be one (1) Facebook page like and one (1) retweet OR two (2) retweets total.

PRIZE DETAILS: And the prize? One lucky winner will get a bountiful gift basket that includes the following:

--A Cooking with Corey "sweets sampler" of homemade, all-original, healthy gourmet treats, packaged in a lovely gift box that includes some special desserts and snacks, including several top secret selections that will ONLY appear in upcoming cookbooks. That's right, you'll be able to you'll be able to sample these rare treats firsthand, before anyone else, and all without having to lift a finger to cook or bake. :) Gift basket samples will include tantalizing selections like White Chocolate Almond Butter Cookies and Gourmet Almond Bon-Bons (both of which will ONLY appear in my upcoming cookbook), as well as Almond Cherry Sesame Crunch Bars, and other special goodies.

 --An assortment of gourmet herbs and spices AND high-quality kitchen tools from Corey's Amazon store (worth $50).

 --A gift certificate for two (2) FREE weeks of online sports nutrition AND fitness consultations (worth $90) with coach Corey Irwin, courtesy of her running and wellness company, Rock It! Running Company, which includes an initial, in-depth, 1-hour consultation to determine your current fitness level, nutritional intake and eating behaviors, fitness and sports nutrition goals, and address any other related issues. You'll also receive a detailed training plan (that includes flexibility and strength training exercises) and a customized meal plan to suit your training and sports nutrition needs. You can either use the gift certificate for yourself or gift it to a friend or family member. It's your choice! [Gift certificates are also available to purchase as holiday gifts for friends and family members for longer periods of time. It's a great way to give the gift of health and fitness to your loved ones! Unlike some other types of gifts, health and fitness never go out of style. :) Please contact the company via Rock It! Running Company's website contact form or Facebook page (via the message button) for further details.] 

HOW TO CLAIM YOUR PRIZE: One lucky winner will be announced in a blog post on Sunday, December 16th. The winner will literally be picked out of a hat by random, blind selection. :)

To claim your prize, please use the contact form on this blog and include your email and postal address in the body of your message. Please note: All information contained in your message will be kept confidential (it won't be shared with anyone!) and will only be used to contact you and send you your prize.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

0 Recipe #329: Shirazi Salad

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This Persian salad -- from where else, but the region of Shiraz  -- is a delicious and healthy dish that's quite simple and easy to make. It's sort of like a Persian pico de gallo. :-D This no-cook dish consists of only three vegetables -- tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions. They're all chopped to a uniform size and marinated for a short period of time. Typically served in the summer, this salad goes particularly well with other dishes like pita spread with hummus or babaganoush, falafel, or grilled shish kebabs like jujeh (chicken) kebabs.

A Paleo version of this recipe will be appearing in the fitness and nutritional lifestyle book, Paleo Fitness, by Brett Stewart, Darryl Edwards, and Jason Warner. Although this version is non-Paleo, it can easily be made Paleo with a few simple modifications, which have been detailed below:

Shirazi Salad

1/2 c. red onion, peeled and diced (about 1/2 small red onion)
1 1/2 c. Persian or English (seedless) cucumbers, unpeeled, scored lengthwise with a fork, and diced (about 1 1/2 Persian cucumbers or 1 medium-sized English cucumber)
1 1/2 c. vine-ripened tomatoes, diced and drained (about 2 medium-sized tomatoes)
2 Tbsp. fresh mint, finely chopped and densely packed (if unavailable, use 2 tsp. dry mint)
1/4 c. freshly squeezed lime juice (the juice of about 2 large limes)
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (Paleo Fitness version of this recipe uses walnut oil, for Omega-3 content)
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper, or to taste
1/8 tsp. salt, or to taste (omit for Paleo prep)
2 tsp. ground sumac (for Paleo prep, be sure to use salt-free sumac)

Directions: Combine onion, cucumbers, tomatoes, and mint in a large bowl and set aside. Combine the remaining ingredients in a blender and pulse until well-combined. Pour dressing on top of salad, and toss until vegetables are completely coated with dressing. Cover and refrigerate, allowing salad to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve cold.

Chef’s Notes: Be sure to dice the onion first, followed by the cucumbers, and lastly, the tomatoes, in that particular order, to keep your cutting board as dry as possible. And, make sure to dice them to a uniform size.

Please note, traditionally speaking, garlic is NOT used in this salad. Any so-called Shirazi salad containing garlic is really NOT a Shirazi salad. It is something else. ;)

To make this dish into a meal, simply add a protein source like tofu, grilled chicken, beef, or shrimp, etc.

Sumac can be purchased at most Middle Eastern or Mediterranean stores. If you don't have a local resource, you can always purchase it online.

Yield: 4 servings (of 1 cup each).

0 Recipe #328: Italian-Style Marinated Vegetable Salad (Antipasto)

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This colorful, tasty antipasto is perfect for parties and picnics. Not only is it a real people-pleaser, but the prep work barely takes any time at all. Even better, there's no actual cooking involved, just a bit of chopping and mixing, et le voilà, you're done! It can't get any easier than that. :)

Italian-Style Marinated Vegetable Salad (Antipasto)

1 14 oz. can hearts of palm, drained and rinsed
1 14 oz. can quartered artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
1/2 c. (pre-cut) julienned sun-dried tomatoes, plain (not the kind packaged in oil)
2 c. fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 c. yellow bell pepper, diced (about 1 medium-sized yellow bell pepper)
1 c. red bell pepper, diced (about 1 medium-sized red bell pepper)
1 c. mix of Kalamata and Greek olives, pitted and halved (about 32 large olives)
1 1/2 Tbsp. garlic, peeled and finely minced (about 3 large cloves)
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. red chili pepper flakes (for medium heat), or to taste
2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
2 tsp. dried basil leaves
1 tsp. dried oregano leaves
1 tsp. dried marjoram leaves
1/2 tsp. dried parsley leaves
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt

Directions: Toss all of the ingredients into a large (1 gallon) resealable plastic bag. Seal and thoroughly massage ingredients together from the outside of the bag until well combined. Place into the refrigerator and marinate overnight or a minimum of at least an hour before serving.

Yield: About 9 1/2 c., or roughly 10-12 servings.

Chef's Notes: If desired, this dish can be make several days in advance. It will keep for up to a week or longer.

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