Jayne McAllister

Travel Wellness Expert and Author


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Make Your Party Puerto Rican: Ten Recipes for Great Island Food

Be a devil and try recipe #9, ensalada de yuca instead of potato salad at your party this weekend. I’ve made it a bunch of times. Not only is it vegan, so it’s high fiber, but it’s also delicious and makes you look really debonair and international if you serve it. Kind of like when I rolled up to a party once with a lemongrass-jicama slaw, before restaurants were serving jicama slaw. This is your chance to be the trendsetter!

Hot, Cheap & Easy

Whether it’s Memorial Day, Fourth of July, or Christmas, the following dishes – most of them quite easy to prepare and using ingredients available in regular supermarkets (especially those that carry Goya products) — are a medley of the best of Puerto Rican food. This is not a complete list, of course, but mix and match them up and you will have a big table of big, bold food that will introduce everyone to new flavor combinations without scaring them off!

Have a terrific weekend everyone! Buen provecho…..

1. Tostones – Our version of french fries…made with plantains. This is the authentic method with some secret steps!

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A Make-Your-Own, Take-Your-Own Healthy Snack For Your Next Trip

Savory Rosemary Almond CrackersFrequent travelers often ask me for good snack ideas.  I’m always happy to share: ditch the dreadful protein bars and pack bags of almonds and goji berries instead, for example.  But imagine… what if… what if there was a yummy healthy snack you could make yourself in no time.  So today we are going to get radical and in half an hour or so while you’re home, returning calls and dealing with the laundry mountain, you can make your own Scooby Snacks to take with you on your next trip.

No way.  I’m far too busy.  I barely have time to unpack and repack while I’m home.”  Well, one of the reasons you work so hard is to enjoy your home.  I have to assume that said home has a kitchen, quite probably a very nice one.  I’m not asking you to make profiteroles.  These crackers are really simple to make and I was even more impressed by the lack of residual mess.  Throwing all the ingredients in a food processor and the use of parchment paper to roll the dough keeps everything really clean.

As for the time factor, it took me 20 minutes to prep these, including going to the garden to get the rosemary and pouring a glass of wine to help the process.

Ta-da!  Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you Savory Almond Rosemary Crackers, a lovely combination of protein and carbohydrate to keep you energetic.  I wish I could claim the recipe as my own, but it comes from my dear friend and fellow health coach, the lovely Gina Knepell (www.NourishMethod.com).

Savory Almond Rosemary Crackers

Prep time: 15 minutes / Cook time: 16 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups almond meal / almond flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 green onion (spring onion), finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 egg

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of a food processor, add all ingredients. Process until smooth and dough forms a ball.  Scrape sides of bowl and process again if necessary.  Place dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll out as thin as possible – especially in the center.  Shape to fit baking sheet.  Remove top piece of parchment paper.  Transfer the bottom piece, with rolled dough, onto a baking sheet.  Cut dough into 2-inch squares with a sharp knife and bake for 14 – 16 minutes, or until lightly golden.  Let crackers cool on baking sheet for 30 minutes before serving.

Avocado puree and homemade crackersHere are the crackers with my delicious avocado puree.  You can check that out in my previous post.


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A Change From Guacamole (And An Interesting Tuna Salad)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI had a yearning for guacamole today, as one does. Despite there being three avocados in the fridge, no grocery shopping in a few days and a subsequent dearth of tomatoes nixed Plan A.  However – and I do love howevers – in the recesses of my brain, I recalled a Middle Eastern alternative.  God bless Claudia Roden.  “A Book of Middle Eastern Food” was first published in 1968.  I bought my copy in 1981, the year I began studying Arabic.  Paperback, dog-eared and yellowed, it has traveled with me across the Middle East and into Sudan, where I lived for a year and regularly experimented with recipes from it.  Most vivid are my memories of okra (“ba’amia”) cooked on a charcoal “stove” about the size of a small stool, made from beaten metal.  When the new edition of “A Book of Middle Eastern Food” was published in 2001, it jumped to the top of my Dear Santa list.  The new edition is beautiful but, some of my old favorites are missing from it, not least the recipe for avocado puree that I’m sharing with you today.

As a bonus, I have long been searching for a healthier alternative to mayonnaise-ridden tuna salad, which my husband loves.  Sometimes that which you seek has been sitting on your bookshelf for over 30 years.  See below for Ms Roden’s variation on this dish with tuna.

Some people are terrified of avocados because they’re perceived to be high in calories and fats.  That’s not the subject of today’s blog, so let me give you the quick version.  Avocados are a wonderful food, full of the best kinds of fats.  Add a little to a meal and you’ll feel full for longer and you’ll function better.  I eat at least half an avocado a day, usually more.  Often the people who are afraid of them are eating fried foods and a lot of animal products with saturated fat and cholesterol.  Avocados are full of good fat and have no cholesterol. They help your brain function.  They are your friend.  Please enjoy them.

Avocado Puree by Claudia Roden

  • 3 ripe avocados
  • Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed with salt
  • Salt
  • 1/2 large mild onion, grated (or zapped in food processor – see below*)
  • Ground black pepper
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Cut open and stone the avocados.  Scoop out the flesh and mash it with a fork in a bowl.  (Ms Roden calls for it to be mashed with a silver fork).  Stir in the remaining ingredients and beat to a smooth, creamy paste.  Taste, and adjust the seasoning.  (An electric blender will give you a smoother puree in no time).

This cream is very rich.  Serve it heaped on small crackers or thin toast.

* The recipe calls for the onion to be grated. That part was not fun.  I know that famed chef Mario Batali always says “there’s rustic and there’s lazy.”  Well, I must fall into the latter category.  Grating that onion was ruining the enjoyment of making this delicious dish.  So, I pulled out my mini processor and zapped the onion until it was the same mushy texture as that which I grated.  And – it didn’t make me cry.

Avocado Puree With Tuna

Mash the flesh of 2 ripe avocados to a puree with a *silver* fork.  Drain a 6 3/4 ounce tin of tuna and combine the flaked fish with the avocado puree.  Stir in a *little* mayonnaise, season and serve on small crackers or thin toast.