Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Arroz curry con verduras

As the holidays creep every closer (and more importantly, the new Star Wars) it’s tempting to create a massive feast that uses every pot, pan, and kitchen gadget we have to blog, but I think what could be potentially more useful is a simple but delicious and filling dish that can be made anywhere which requires just one pot, a few condiments, and is finished in under thirty minutes.

M and I first made this dish at a hotel while we were in Southern Argentina, and enjoyed it with another couple from the hotel, whom quickly became good friends. M and I will definitely be enjoying this dish again during our upcoming trip to New York.

The dish can be made with almost any vegetables you have on hand but this particular rendition is really nice particularly for chilly or colder nights as the blend of flavors gives a warming sensation.

We bought a premixed curry at a small dietetica (basically a “health” food store that has spices and herbs). Most currys are a combination of different south Asian spices often containing coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek and chili or pepper. If you don’t have a curry, the two main spices are turmeric and cumin and can easily replace the pre-bought mix.

Azzor with vegetables

2 cups brown rice
1 onion – well chopped
2 carrots – well chopped
1 small bunch of broccoli – well chopped
1 can of corn
1 handful of raisins
1 small bunch arugula, kale, or spinach – well chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon curry powder (or spice combination)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and black pepper to taste
 cups of water or broth

In a large pot start by sautéing the chopped onion for a few moments. Once the onion starts to turn translucent, add the rice, the water and the spices.

Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Once simmering, add the broccoli, carrots, and can of corn. Mix well, cover and then let the dish cook for another 15 minutes.

When most of the water is absorbed, add the handful of raisins to the dish. This will give the entire dish a nice but subtle sweetness which really adds to the dish and helps cut any bitterness of the curry powder.

Once all the water is absorbed, serve the dish hot on top of your favorite greens. Feel free to garnish with a few chopped cashews or avocado.

As always the information presented in this blog is for educational purposes only. It should not be considered as specific medical, nutritional, lifestyle, or other health-related advice.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Maple-mustard tofu with steamed swiss-chard

It’s hard to find the words to post about the health benefits of plants given the recent events. These types of events tend to eclipse everything else that we have going on in our lives.     

But they also force us to focus on what is actually important.

For me, one of the major reasons I’m a vegan, and proud to use that word, is because it means I abhor violence.

When we consume animals, we are supporting an industry of violence. When we consume animals, we invite that violence into our lives. When we consume animals, we accept violence and even worst we make it acceptable.

When we change our habits, not just what is on our plate, but also in our soap, and in our closets, we are sending a powerful message to the world.

That message is a desire for peace.


This is a simple but elegant dish that comes together really nicely. It doesn’t require a big introduction, but it is certainly a satisfying dish that has even won over stubborn meat-eating Argentines.

The best thing about this is how simple it is, but none of your guest need to know.

Maple-mustard tofu with steamed swiss chard

1 block of extra firm tofu
1 bunch swiss chard
1 table spoon black sesame seeds

Maple-mustard marinade for the tofu
¼ cup water
4 tbsp of Dijon or yellow mustard
2 tbsp of maple syrup
1 tsp soy sauce
½ tsp cumin

First drain the tofu. Since I still live in the 90s, I typically place the block of tofu between two plates for an hour or so, to squeeze all of the water out of it. But a tofu press is suppose to much better at this.

While the tofu is draining, place all of the marinade ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together. The marinade should be sticky but smooth.

Once the tofu is drained, cut it into 1x1 inch blocks and add it to the bowl of marinade.

Toss it so the tofu is evenly coated and place it in a glass pan or cookie sheet. (I normally use parchment paper)

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes on 325 flipping once halfway through to ensure it cooks evenly.

While the tofu is baking, wash and chop the swiss chard.

Place it in a steam basket and steam for 5 minutes or until bright green. Don’t over cook it as it will become very soft.

When the tofu is golden brown, remove from the oven and sprinkle it with black sesame seeds.

Serve it on top of the swiss chard. Feel free to add any left over marinade as a dressing for the dish.

Serve either hot or let cool and serve at room temperature. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

WHO Carcinogen list and a plant-strong Thai-style Curry

Perhaps it’s ironic that a few days after I published my post on Breast Cancer last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced that they were adding processed meat to the list of carcinogens known to cause cancer, and listed all red meat (beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse, and goat) as a food type that “probably” causes cancer.

I was actually away from Buenos Aires when the WHO news broke, and while I was getting periodic updates about the reports, hiking, kayaking, and cycling with friends in Patagonia took precedent.

However whenever I checked in, the internet was ablaze with crazy click-bait titles, ridiculous claims, and adamant defences that this is some sort of liberal conspiracy to further reduce American’s freedoms.

The problem is most people don’t quiet understand what they are so fired up about. While many in the media have said that WHO claims processed meat is as dangerous as cigarettes and asbestos, the truth is the IARC release describes the strength of scientific evidence, rather than the level of risk of specific toxins.

As such, the truth is, processed meats have not been classified as “risky” as smoking or asbestos exposure, rather the evidence is equally compelling that they all contribute to cancer.

These findings were not reached lightly. A panel of experts reviewed over 800 different peer-reviewed research articles examining possible links. Specifically, they concluded that about 2 ounces of processed meats such as cold cuts or bacon increases colorectal cancer risk by 17 percent and 4 ounces of red meat increased that risk by 18 percent. To make this more clear, an average hamburger is somewhere around 2.4 ounces. 

“This is not an issue the public should panic about,” according to an interview giving by panelist Mariana Stern, PhD, but added, “we know that diet may contribute up to 30 percent of the cancer burden. Givent that most cancers are caused by multiple factors that act jointly, and likely in different combinations in different people, the more we know about modifiable risk factors that we can change, the more we can reduce the cancer burden in the population."

As many on the interwebs have pointed out, WHO didn’t bother to differentiate between organic, grass-fed and lean meats from their factory farm counterpoints.

The reason is because they didn’t have too. They looked at certain compounds found within all meat and how it responds to being cooked. Specifically, the evidence focused on the harmful effects of nitrates found in processed meats and, perhaps more surprisingly, heme iron found in all red meats. There was no evidence which suggested that grass-fed, free range meat is any different. Zero evidence. Over 800 studies.

In the same interview quoted above, Dr. Stern (an Argentine by birth!) said the best advice is to severely limit or eliminate all meats and instead to enrich our diets with fruits, vegetables, and grains all of which have been found to help protect against cancer. When pressed if her decade of cancer research has impacted her way of eating she stated, “yes, it has influenced what I eat. I am a vegan.”

More can be found here.

The interview with Mariana Stern, PhD can be found here.

International Agency for Research on Cancer, Red Meat and Processed Meat Volume 114, October 26, 2015.


To sweeten up the sour news about meats, M and I developed this phenomenal plant-based Thai-style curry which is perfect as fall slowly crawls into winter.

I use to make curries quite often from a commercially available curry paste that I use to buy in New York. These products are great, but many of them contain fish-oil so be sure to check the ingredients carefully.

However those are not available here, so instead we’ve been experimenting with curry powder. We constantly ran into the same issues, the curries were always to bitter.

One night while in the shared kitchen at our hotel in Patagonia, M was talking to an Australian woman about unlocking the full potential of curry powders. As it turns out, sautéing the powder first is a little-known secret that helps rid the powder of it’s overly bitter taste, while leaving that sweeter thai-style curry flavor.

Tofu & Kale Thai-style Veggie Curry
Serves 4

2.5 tablespoons yellow curry powder
3 cups of coconut milk
2 cups of water (rough estimate)
1.5 cups of water
1 onion – finely chopped
2 carrots – chopped
1 eggplant
1-2 medium potatoes – chopped
½ firm tofu – chopped
1 cup broccoli – chopped
half bunch of kale - chopped
1 handful of raisins (optional but recommended)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 thumb of fresh ginger – diced
½ teaspoon coconut sugar or sweetener of choice
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
salt and black pepper to taste

Start by sautéing the curry powder in 2 tablespoons of coconut milk for three minutes. The powder will start to release some of it’s aroma.

Now add the finely chopped onion and sauté for two more minutes, adding a little more liquid as needed.

Add 3 cups of coconut milk and ¾ cup of water and bring to a simmer. Once rolling, add the tofu, spices, and remaining vegetables (except the kale), along with a handful of raisins. The raisins will help further sweeten the curry. If your curry powder is very bitter, add a little extra coconut sugar.

Once you add all of the vegetables, add just enough water to cover them and bring to a simmer.

Cover and let cook for 15-20 minutes or until all the vegetables (particularly the potatoes) are soft and well cooked. Once everything is done, add the chopped kale and let sit for 5 minutes so the kale has a chance to soften.

We served the curry on top of this simple rice and barley mixture.

1.5 cups brown rice
1.5 cups barley
2 bayleafs
½ teaspoon cardamom powder
6 cups of water

Combine all ingredients and simmer until all the water is absorbed and ready to be eaten.

As always the information presented in this blog is for educational purposes only. It should not be considered as specific medical, nutritional, lifestyle, or other health-related advice.