A truth about Tattoos (or particularly ONE!)

A truth about Tattoos (or particularly ONE!)

The story behind my one and only tattoo is finally shared as we observe World Suicide Prevention Day.

This tattoo in my left wrist, connected straight to my heart, it’s a keepsake meant to point out that no matter the insurmountable problems or crisis I’m experiencing, or the unbearable pain or distress I feel, there’s a path that requires me alive and standing and, above it all, there’s an infinite energy ready to catch me should I fall, to join me in my battles and bring me back to safety. That there is a point on this which we call life.

Confidence, Demi Lovato and having Bigger Fears

Confidence, Demi Lovato and having Bigger Fears

Demi Lovato, a pop artist with over 74 million followers on Instagram alone, posted a photo of her on a bikini coming out of the pool... and THAT is her WORST fear. A fear based 100% on looks, specially as she, and all pop stars - specially women, rely heavily on their looks as much as they can to maintain their careers.

May we fear great jumps towards bigger dreams, huge changes in our lifestyles or even proposals that bring up transformations... but our honest and real bodies exposed? That shit doesn't even requires our attention, babes.

Seven Lessons and Five Recipes that all about Food Leftovers

 

I love leftovers.

In fact, let me be EXTRA clear, I get EXCITED with leftovers.

After a Family Feast, the abundance of leftovers always creates a second feast..!

After a Family Feast, the abundance of leftovers always creates a second feast..!

After converting my beloved #MrB into another Leftover junky (you can watch more about it here!), I always find myself pondering about what will I create next out of whatever is in the fridge from the night (or week before) and getting exhilarated at the possibilities of another culinary win.

Now, growing up, leftovers felt much like punishment. I mean, we didn’t have much money, it was Venezuela in the early 90s and I was being raised by a single mom. Things got tough in many occasions. However, my mom always made leftovers’ dishes super exciting and delicious, especially the omelettes she would prepare at the end of the week with whatever compatible things were in the fridge. In many ways, these occasions felt like feast for me.

These days, leftovers have taught me some valuable lessons, that make me love them EVEN more. Here are my 6 lessons learned from committing myself to creatively reusing leftovers:

  1. If kept adequately, they can resist even 2 weeks: Now, most of the times, food in our home doesn’t make it beyond the 1-week mark (unless packed for the freezer!), but now that I have invested in great containers and make sure food gets put away properly and never touched with serving tools that could be messy or dirty, things have lasted much longer than I imagined they would.

  2. Spices and herbs evolve over time: A lot of casseroles, stews and sauces tend to get better with time. Particularly dishes with onions and tomatoes tend to get better after a day or two in the fridge.

  3. … so beware, especially when reheating!: As flavours evolved and change in the fridge and then some get reactivated with heat, the level of spiciness can hit new marks that you might not be ready for. I’m not a fan of spicy foods (and my lips swollen when I eat it!) and so if the leftover dish had some peppers or chillies I always check before reheating them, as they might become WAAAAYYYYY too spicy for me.

  4.  Most things can be turned into a casserole with some imagination, eggs and cheese: Seriously. This should be taught in school. If I don’t have enough of one leftover to make a whole new round from it, I tend to make a baked dish to make it go further without investing too much time or money. 

  5. When repurposing leftovers, the Key is in maintaining Flavour Consistency: This lesson I learned early on and later relearned in cooking school. There are spices that go well with certain cuisines and dishes but not with others. I try to make sure that there’s a theme on the repurposed dish, especially when there are several elements combined. A quick Google search can help you sort out what spices go well with what… no one wants to end up with a Bolognese sauce full of garam masala and cumin.

  6. They can be a busy grown-up’s best friends: With kids at home on their summer holidays, loads of projects to catch up on and more ideas to be developed, leftovers are one of my secret weapons to avoid investing too many hours cooking AND helping our resources stretch. Win-Win for sure!

  7. If you believe in yourself, almost anything can be a Delicious Feast!: For many, eating leftovers has a layer of lacking and shaming. These days, when ethical brands and practices are reminding us of the cost of our consumption habits on our planet, I believe reusing and embracing leftovers is both an act of Love towards our environment (and ourselves!) and an act of defiance against consumerism. So, when facing them, dared to be creative, check out ideas online, think outside of the box and, above and beyond, have fun with them.

Want to start giving Leftovers a go with an easy recipe? Here are 5 great recipes for you to try this week:

Versatile Veggie Soup: This one is ALWAYS a winner for me. I even save the hard stalks of the Broccoli and Asparagus for it and, with our always present Bone Broth, I can turn it into a Gut-Healing powerhouse! Make sure you skip the potatoes when doing a Keto version. You can always substitute those for Chayote or Cauliflower.

The Best Meatloaf Ever (which happens to be Keto and Paleo!): Now, I wasn’t a fan of meatloaf until recently and this particular recipe will even make the pickiest one in the house a convert too. This is a great way to reuse: Veggies (shredded or chopped and mixed into the minced meat), meat (you could even use cooked options and add extra fat and water to the mix) and even offal meats (aka nutritional-powerhouses like Liver or Heart!). Make sure you take the time to nail the spices and you’ll have a great recipe that everyone will love.

 Leftover Turkey Casserole: I’m a fan of casseroles. Consider this your blueprint but feel free to change the protein, veggies and cheeses involved to fit YOUR leftovers situation.

Lamb and Potatoes Pie: This is a bit counterintuitive on a mostly-Keto side, but pies like this one are great ways to reuse lamb. I easily change the potatoes for some cauliflower mash, added some spring onions and garlic to it and that alone cut the carb numbers greatly. Skip the breadcrumbs and use either cheese or almond flakes instead and you have a winner!

Anahi’s Left Over Beef Fajitas Salad: Now, this one is a recipe I created to deal with the extra meat we would have at times when indulging on BBQs during the summer. I’m always concerned about overcooking it, specially if it has already well-done, but in general the dish is super forgiving:

 

Leftover Beef Keto Friendly Fajita Salad

This Beef Fajita Salad will feel like a full on Fiesta in your mouth and will solve leftover issues!

This Beef Fajita Salad will feel like a full on Fiesta in your mouth and will solve leftover issues!

Ingredients:

  • 300grs Leftover Steaks, cooked and sliced*

  • 1 medium white onion, sliced

  • 1 small red onion, sliced

  •  1 pepper, sliced

  •  4 garlic clove, chopped

  •  3 Tablespoon Avocado Oil

  •  1 Teaspoon Dried Parsley

  •  ½ Teaspoon Dried Oregano

  •  1 Teaspoon Onion Powder

  •  1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder

  •  Salt and Pepper to Taste

  •  ½ cup Broth

  •  2 cups Fresh Spinach

  •  2 cups Fresh Mixed Greens

  •  1 large avocado, diced

  •  ½ cup Salsa

  • 1/3 cup Cheddar Cheese, grated

Preparation:

In a pan at medium heat, put the spices and let cook for 3 minutes. Then add the red and white onion and let cook, without stirring, for 5 minutes. Add some salt and the garlic, cooking whilst mixing for 5-7 minutes. Add the peppers and let the vegetables cook for 5 minutes before adding the broth.

Let it cook at medium high and, when the liquid has reduced by half, add the chopped beef, mixing well to make sure all flavours are combined. Cook at medium heat until desired consistency. Taste and adjust spices and salt before turning off.

These colours are just pure LIFE!

These colours are just pure LIFE!

On a bowl, start plating with the greens and spinach, followed by the avocado and salsa. Top it all with the Beef Fajita and the cheese. If needed, add extra pepper on top.

 

*Please know the quantities of beef can vary and you can always swap it for a different protein you have handy instead!

The Beef Fajita could also work well with tortillas or rice, and you can always eat any leftovers the next day as a cold salad. It is beyond tasty and for sure will make your tummy and pocket happy!

Are you a Leftover Lover yet? If yes, what are your go-to Leftover recipes?

 

10 Lessons Learned in Istanbul

 

89 Hours, 2 boys, too much Ice Cream and not enough coffee!

Our final sunset in Istanbul, which coincide with the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan this year!

Our final sunset in Istanbul, which coincide with the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan this year!

Istanbul, the only city in the world stretching between two continents, is a destination that has fascinated me for decades. Since I was a child, back in Venezuela, I viewed Turkey as this capti vating country, full of great stories and legends, which fuelled my imagination and made me dream about visiting it at some point in my life.

Having lived in the Middle East for a decade now (yes, in May 2019 I officially crossed the 10 years mark!) my adult interest in Turkey, and particularly Istanbul, was much more about the fascinating historical heritage than about old tales and stories… and after reading Dan Brown’s Inferno, I desperately wanted to go to both Hagia Sophia, the famous Orthodox Church, turned Mosque, turned Museum; and the Basilic Cistern equally.

Whilst many want to shop their life away in the over-4-thousand shops at the Grand Bazaar or relish in the artwork and curiosities in the city’s countless museums, my bucket list for Istanbul was simple:

1.     Visit Hagia Sophia – Walk around its ancient corridors, look at the second church’s ruins and take a moment to witness its amazing centuries-old frescos; and

2.     Visit the Basilic Cistern – Walk around the dark and humid pathways that once guaranteed water supply for a big art of the city, visit the two Medusa heads and imagine Robert Langdon’s experience in this mysterious location in Inferno.

In all honesty, anything extra that I could tackle during our 3-day tour in Istanbul with 2 boys in tow, was a bonus, since whilst in my heart, I wanted to see it all, I knew that holidaying with children is a whole different ball game.

Before having children I could walk for hours on end, moving swiftly in between alleyways and stopping only for seconds to take photographs of the different things I encountered… tourism with little humans is about compromising, negotiating and constant stops to either take them to the toilet, feed them or let them play for a bit. Not to mention navigating the ancient streets with strollers.

If you, like me, have been fascinated about Istanbul and are planning a trip with your own family, here are the lessons we learned, things we loved and challenges we faced:

As cute as they look, these streets were a pain to push a stroller at!

As cute as they look, these streets were a pain to push a stroller at!

1.     Don’t leave without sunscreen: Seriously. So much sunscreen. For real. I am NOT pale. In fact, I’m quite tanned in general, yet the long strolls made a number on me and #MrB and we learned that SPF50 can surely make holidays better.

2.     Beware of the roads: Even though we aren’t expert travellers, our trips with the boys have always involved strollers and that was never a big deal… except here! The ancient uphill roads, cobble stone streets and narrow alleyways meant manoeuvring them was hard. Like, REALLY hard. If your kiddos aren’t great walkers, beware. Or perhaps take some heavy weightlifting in the previous months to be prepared for it.

3.     Read the small print: I normally make extensive research before we travel to have clarity about what to do and avoid whilst in our destination. However, I didn’t have a chance to do so this time and I paid for it. I found a deal that seemed too good to be true and it certainly was. Costing us 320 euros for 3 days of “activities”, it ended up giving us anything but sorrow. The offer was mostly deceitful and full of fluff that we didn’t even need. When I dared to complain, the supplier was rude and we ended disappointed and having to cancel it on the second day.

4.     Trust the Local Guides: Again, I don’t normally do this. But, with a closing door, a window was opening and, as I was calming down after the original heartbreak of our original tourism company failing us, we stumbled upon a fantastic local guide who took at heart the challenge of guiding us and went above and beyond to make our visit to Sultanahmet perfect. If in Istanbul, forget the fancy companies or complex deals and go with a local who can cater to your needs. I told Yunus: “We have until 6:30pm (aka 4hrs) to visit Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Topkapi Palace and the Basilic Cistern. All, with the strollers. Can you do it?”. His response? “Yes, let’s go!”. And he made it happen! If he hadn’t entered our journey, I would have probably continued crying and feeling sorry for the misfortunes of the trip. Instead, we left with a completed bucket list, thanks to this true gentleman and learned scholar who focused on us enjoying our time there while imparting his knowledge (at least part of if) of the vast historical journey of this amazing city we now call Istanbul.

As always, Yunus kept us company and allowed us to discover Istanbul happily!

As always, Yunus kept us company and allowed us to discover Istanbul happily!

5.     You think you know, but you have no idea: When we booked our little Istanbul flat, the owner warned us about the mosque in the back (Istanbul is the Turkish city with the largest amount mosques with over 3,100 for its 14 million population). “We come from Qatar, mosques aren’t an issue” we thought. That one was a mistake. As beautiful as they sounded at 8pm, as they announced the breaking of the fast, they kept us awake through the night and without the A/C noise that protects us back home, they did a massive number on our sleep. 

6.     English isn’t enough: This one was a shock. Outside of the touristic areas, and even within some of them, like the airport, English isn’t widely spoken. In fact, most of the people we met, including the lovely janitor of our AirBnB, can’t speak or understand English at all. Not a big deal if you’re patient and loving… perhaps a bigger deal if you lose your cool. Just in case, toilets are called: Tuvaletler.

The boys’ first breakfast consisted of French Toast made with our homemade bread, strawberry jam and bacon. The boys LOVED it!

The boys’ first breakfast consisted of French Toast made with our homemade bread, strawberry jam and bacon. The boys LOVED it!

7.     Whenever possible, keep it Simple: When it came to the food, we kept things pretty straightforward. I packed our own bread from Doha, as well as some Kiddo-Approved snacks, and we focused on eating fresh local produce and simply grilled proteins whenever possible, even repeating food choices time and time again. As much as I’m a fan of variety and change, when in holidays simplicity is relaxation.

8.     Kids are Royalty: If there was one common theme we encounter time and time again was people who would bend over backwards to interact, engage and entertain our boys. At first, I thought it was something to do with MY boys (they are really cute after all!), but I soon realised it was something about children in general. In cabs, restaurants, queues, museums, shops or cafes, children are cared for and given sweets, treats, smiles and high-fives from strangers abundantly. Now, if yours are on the shy side, like mine, and if you’re into bodily autonomy, like we are, this might make things awkward. But, don’t be surprised, apparently it’s a Turkish thing!

9.     Small can be Better: As much as I wanted to see the Grand Bazaar, Istanbul’s almost 600-year-old market, I’m not a fan of over-crowded places, so instead of heading there for sweets, spices and souvenirs, Yunus proposed to take us to Arasta Bazaar, a smallish strip of shops where you can find all the items from the other Bazaars minus the stressful spaces. What a treat that was! We found all our treasures there whilst the boys played (and were given more sugar than they had ever eaten before because… well read #8!) and left without any stress or overwhelm (other than on our credit card!).

Beautiful and small Arasta Bazaar in the Sultanahmet Area in Istanbul

Beautiful and small Arasta Bazaar in the Sultanahmet Area in Istanbul

10.  Dared to be Surprised: In the end, my biggest learning here was to allow myself to be wowed, surprised and amazed, not by its luxury or exuberance, but by its natural beauty, colourful flowers, stunning sunsets and warm people. 

That was it for us. Eighty-nine hours packed with long walks, loads of data and information, colours, smells, flavours and connection time. We left knowing we had witnessed a city with much more to share with the world than it has till this day. As the French Naturalist Petrus Gyllius said:

“All other cities are mortal, but I think Istanbul shall be eternal as long as mankind exists.”

After our time there, I couldn’t agree more.

 

Top 10 Breads on Keto - The Ultimate Lifesaving List

 

When it comes to Keto living, one of the things many struggle with is living life without their daily bread.

Literally.

Who doesn’t crave some bread here and there on Keto?

Who doesn’t crave some bread here and there on Keto?

In fact, this is perhaps in the top 3 of the biggest fears my clients have when starting Keto: What will they do about “The Bread”. Now, in all fairness, because I had been living Gluten Free first, followed by a Paleo/Primal lifestyle, when I shifted to Keto bread wasn’t my biggest stress. I knew I could live without it.

In fact, not even fruits were my biggest concern, as I wasn’t a fan to begin with. To me, the toughest foods to let go of were Corn and Corn Products (hello, Arepas!🇻🇪) and Rice (specially some rice dishes like Appams (amazingly delicious fermented rice “pancakes” typical in Sri Lankan cuisine).

However, because I know there’s a big need for these, here come my top 10 bread (and bread-like) Keto-Friendly recipes (that aren’t in my own!):

  1. Sara Louise’s French Baguette: Now, in general, I tend NOT to overindulge in recipes that have Cream Cheese (which is why I’m not a Fathead fan!) but this particular recipe is a winner and one that I might add to certain weeks, when soups are on the menu.

  2. The Best Keto Buns: To be very honest, there are countless versions of this recipe all over the internet. In fact, I have played with one myself and use to teach it in my cooking classes a few years ago. They tend to hold well and freeze beautifully, so no excuses there. (PS: I’ll be adding my version to my Starting Keto Right! Recipe Book for the Pre-Summer relaunch too, so tay tuned!).

  3. Sourdough Keto Bread: This is a recipe I tried before Christmas, as I was looking for options for easy dinners with Turkey leftovers. It’s a winner, super easy, kids approved and (most importantly in my busy life) it freezes AMAZINGLY!

  4. Keto & Paleo Tortillas: Unfortunately, this recipe didn’t meet my kiddos’ palette (all those apple pouches and gourmet fries do spoiled them!😂) but I liked them enough to make a little batch every month or so for me. I’ll probably test taking some of the flaxseed out in the near future and see if they like them.

  5. Flax-Free Keto Bread (with a Trouble-shouting Guide and all!): As someone who shifts seeds according to her cycle (it’s called Seed Cycling and it helps with hormonal imbalances, you see!) I’m always looking for Flax-Free recipes, to avoid overdoing it on the Flax front. So, I was very happy to find this one. The best part is that it comes with a little guide to make sure you nail your Keto bread no matter what!

  6. Keto Breadsticks: This. Recipe. Is. EPIC! Seriously, breadsticks are a great little extra for certain menus and meals and this Dairy Free recipe (which you can always pimp with some Parmesan Cheese if you want!) is pretty awesome.

  7. Best Keto Sandwich Bread: I have to say that this one made #MrB VERY happy, as my previous tries at Keto Sandwich bread were waaaaaay too egg-y for him. I’m pretty sure it would freeze well too, but I haven’t had enough left to test it. Sorry, the boys are bread gluttons!

  8. Paleo and Keto Yeast Sandwich Bread: Let’s say you’re missing the hold and fluff that gluten gives to bread (I get it, I’m mourning that too!😩) if you get yourself some GOOD QUALITY Whey Protein, THIS BREAD IS PERFECT. I’ve been using it to end my old supply of Whey Powder (that I no longer consume) and it’s amazing!

  9. Microwave Keto Bread: You can’t do Keto and not try these microwave recipes. If I’m very honest, I’m not a fan of them except when in a hurry and wanting something quick to put butter on. That’s it! The taste can be a tad eggy, but the convenience makes it a winner and it also keeps in the fridge for a few days… so I can’t be too choosey!

  10. Collagen Keto Bread: If you’re into Keto to heal yourself, THIS will be your best choice for bread, as the collagen will help you repair your gut lining and the ingredients in this one are CLEAN. In fact, if you’re on the Anti-Inflammatory Keto bandwagon, like I am, here’s a list of 30 Recipes curated by the Bulletproof team that will ALL avoiding allergens, inflammatory ingredients and nasties.

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There you have them, my dearest Ketonian. Ten recipes for you to experiment, play with and continue your Ketogenic Journey with renewed energies and vibes. Remember, these are just a blueprint. In the end, this journey is ALL about you making things work for YOU.

From swapping ingredients (when possible) to adding new flavours (like herbs or spices from your culture), to changing the presentation of dishes (making breads into more focaccia-like loaves!) this is where you get to be creative, have fun and even get your family involved (God knows my kids have a blast when they are allowed in the kitchen as my sous chefs!👨🏼‍🍳👨🏽‍🍳). Make it fun and make it YOURS.

Buen provecho and see you soon!