FAME Meals - Travel Edition

First: You should know that this is not a travel blog.  Or a food blog. 

The purpose behind these H+D recipes is to help you make healthy eating the easiest and most enjoyable part of your day.  With these recipes, your dinner will feel like vacation :).

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My oldest son attended a soccer camp in a town just outside of Madrid this summer - pretty incredible. As a parent, I can hardly believe that I let my buddy fly across the ocean without me (he was with his teammates and capable and protective coaches - but still!!). When we picked him up in Madrid at the end of his camp, he had had the most incredible experiences! My heart physically ached the whole week he was gone, but I am so so glad he went. 

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After playing soccer all day with kids from the town, they attended fiestas in the local town square (where wearable bulls made out of barrels, horns, and fireworks were the main attraction), took at tour of the Pascual milk factory and learned all about pasteurization and the environmental impact of refrigerating milk (just a light vacation topic), and toured the town winery - they explored all the underground tunnels where wine barrels were stored (and tasted a few different Spanish wines - he is 11 - this was surprising to us, ha!).  He traded jerseys with a local soccer team, and gave away his shirt and his instagram handle to a cute girl at the fiesta. All in all, I think you could say he grew up. 

His camp was the springboard for the most epic family vacation, that took us to 4 countries, 5 cities, and more tourist attractions and restaurants than I can count. 

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When the rest of us landed in Madrid, we had just a day to explore the city and enjoy all the food. I wanted to be able to bring home all the flavors of Spain, so I could be transported back through taste and smell.

I had some food goals: try authentic Spanish cuisine, and find the best sangria.  We found it :).

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Going out to eat every night felt luxurious, but I was itching to recreate my favorite meals I had tried, and add my own twist to them. As I noshed my way through Madrid, Toledo, Frontera, and Barcelona, I was inspired. In every city, I was drawn to all the savory ham, the sweet apricots, the hearty fava beans, and of course - the most delicious patatas bravas (omg).  By the end of our time in Spain, I was tired of ordering off a menu and ready to chop and mix and re-create all these flavors in my kitchen.

This recipe for Cauliflower Bravas, Pork Chops with peach and scallion relish, and Basic Green Beans is the new addition to my weekly menu, that captures all the flavors of summer and the tastes of Spain that my family loved. Oh, and some pretty epic Sangria too :).

This is the goal behind my FAME program - to developing a recipe repertoire of Fast, Amazing Meals that are Easy - that are the healthiest and most enjoyable things you can eat. These meals should only take 25 min to make, taste so good you have to sit down to eat them (and want to share them with others), and so easy that home cooking becomes even more enjoyable than going to a restaurant. These recipes meet all those criteria.

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Just a few nerdy health facts for you first:

1. Pork

Pork often gets a bad rap, and is deemed "unhealthy" in many dietary circles.  It is unhealthy - IF you eat it every day (but so is chicken, with that logic), or if it is raised inhumanely, treated with antibiotics and fed pesticide treated GMO corn and soybeans. Be conscious of how you source the food you eat. An organic pork chop is a completely different food than non-organic - your gut microbiome will thank you. Eat pork the way that people do in Iberia Greece and Okanowa Japan - once a week is perfect (and could result in you living to be 115 years old).

2. Potatoes. 

I love potatoes. Yes - even white potatoes.  In fact, potatoes are a staple in cultures around the world that live the longest! The problem is that we have added toxins/pesticides to potatoes as they are grown, processed them after harvesting, and fried them in oils that destroy the DNA of our cells and harden our cell membranes. What I'm saying is: potatoes are not the problem.  I did not omit them in this recipe because I think they are unhealthy.  I just like cauliflower and wanted to put a twist on this traditional recipe (that is what FAME is all about, after all.)

3. Green beans.

These basic green beans here are in place of the fava beans that I found everywhere in Spain, because fava beans are not as commonly found in the grocery stores where I shop. That makes me assume you would have a tricky time finding them as well. If you find fava beans, buy them immediately and cook them in this basic way and you will be amazed :).

I hope you all enjoy making these recipes, and find them to be nourishing and inspiring!!

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Epic Sangria

  • 1 bottle of red wine 
  • 3/4 C brandy
  • 1/2 C orange juice
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 grapefruit, peeled
  • 1 navel orange
  • 1/2 apple

Chop fruit as shown above. Add all of the fruit (except a few orange slices left for garnish) to a pitcher, and add brandy and brown sugar.  Muddle a bit and let sit for 10 or so minutes.  Add the wine and the juice, stir, and serve.

Cauliflower Bravas

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 10 dashes of hot sauce
  • extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • salt and pepper
  • creme fraiche (optional)
  • chopped chives (optional)

Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.  Chop tomato into small pieces, and transfer to a small baking sheet lined with tin foil. Chop cauliflower and transfer to a large baking sheet lined with tin foil. Place both the tomatoes and the cauliflower in the oven to roast.

To make the Bravas sauce: Heat a small skillet on your stove. Chop onion and garlic, and add to the pan with 1 tsp EVOO. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until softened (5 minutes).  Add paprika and sauté 2 more minutes. By this time, your tomatoes will be roasted! Add them to the pan, along with the tomato paste and hot sauce.  Stir to combine, and sauté until bubbly (2 more minutes).  Transfer into a high speed blender and blend until smooth. 

After 20 min of roasting, your cauliflower will be carmelized and delicious.  Remove from the oven and top with the bravas sauce, a spoonful of creme fraiche and a sprinkling of chives. SO LUXURIOUS.

 Fava beans in Frontera, Spain

Fava beans in Frontera, Spain

Basic Green Beans

  • green beans
  • 1 tsp EVOO
  • salt and pepper

In a small skillet, heat the EVOO until glistening and you can feel the heat radiating from the pan.  Add the green beans (they should sizzle) and toss. Season with salt and pepper, and toss again.  Continue to sauté until they are bright green in color and starting to caramelize. Transfer to a bowl and cover to keep warm. **the flavor of these beans, cooked in this way, is anything but basic :).

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Pork Chops with Peach and Scallion Relish

  • 2 thick cut organic pork chops
  • 1 peach
  • 5 scallions
  • 1 1/2 tsp EVOO
  • Salt and pepper

With a paper towel, wipe out the pan in which you cooked the green beans, and return to the stove. Add EVOO, and heat. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper, and add them to the pan (they should sizzle). Cook for 5 minutes on each side, until browned.

While pork is cooking, chop scallions and slice peaches. Once pork is cooked through, transfer to a plate to rest. Wipe out the pan again and add 1/2 tsp of EVOO and heat. Add scallions and peaches and sauté until scallions are browned and peaches are soft and heated through. Season with salt and pepper. 

Plate the Pork Chops alongside the Cauliflower Bravas and the green beans, top with the relish and enjoy a Spanish feast at home :).

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