The Purple Carrot and the Magic of Veggies

This title may sound a bit like a new chapter in the Harry Potter Series, but I simply wanted to draw attention to this Meal Delivery Service.  In a category that is fast becoming crowded, i have recently been playing with some of the recipes from The Purple Carrot.  In a nutshell, I’m a fan!.  I have tried others such as Blue Apron and Hello Fresh and frankly have not much to do in terms of originality, ease of cooking and,  as important, introducing new and exciting flavors and ingredients.

In my cooking and coaching classes, lots of my clients say that they have trouble coming with new recipes and get tired of cooking the same old, same old dishes.  I can agree with that wholeheartedly and I’m a chef!.  Enter The Purple Carrot and exit Moaning Myrtle.  If you are looking for ways to bring more fruits, vegetables and whole grains into your everyday meals (and as a bonus you want to actually be doing something great and sustainable for the planet to boot!) look no further.  It doesn’t matter whether you are omnivorous, vegetarian, vegan or vegetable-forward (whatever this latest term means! pft!) this one is for muggles and magicians alike.


Jicama Slaw with Pepitas, Cilantro and Lime

This service has the steady direction of no other than Mark Bittman, originally from the New York Times, a prolific cookbook author in its own right and a deft hand to learn from.  As I followed along the recipes, I pictured him (Expecto Patronus!) standing next to me a little bit more like Harry Potter’s Potion’s Master’s  Professor Severus Snape  with the incredible voice from he-who-must-be-named Alan Rickman, R.I.P. and helping me turn food into some seriously magical concoctions, exploring lots of different spices and learning about cuisines from all over the world and some rather cheeky sorcerer techniques.  Some are great and some  may need a bit more work.  As much as i love them,  flour tortillas will never become crepes no matter what spells are incanted, as one recipe with caramelized mushrooms -heroically- tried to do.  Or when an otherwise delightful pozole soup offered soggy popcorn as a replacement for hominy corn.  Hey, but still i’m all for trying!

As part of the repertoire i received in my subscription, I was delighted to make some spicy mushroom and miso meatballs with rice and carrot noodles, then aim for a pineapple and puffed rice Chaat salad with baked spicy and garlicky tofu fries.  The quality of the ingredients are very good, with a pleasant surprise to find my favorite tofu noodles (yuba) that i had discovered at a farmer’s market in San Francisco on a trip there and that are not that easy to find in NYC. They were fantastic in a Vietnamese soup with pineapple and shallots.  Some of the ingredients are organic, from reputable brands without strange to pronounce ingredients and even some items like canned tomatoes that were low in sodium.  More importantly, the larger share of ingredients are whole, unprocessed foods!

Now i guess you’d be wondering if these are healthy? Well, compared to what? as i like to say to my clients.  You will be way better off than ordering a greasy delivery or eating out and you will definitely get your fill of vegetables, fruits, nuts or seeds and whole grains.  You may not be left wondering, as I often do, with the dubious provenance of fowl, meat, dairy or seafood from other services.  And while their calorie content varies from over 500 calories (great!) to close to 900 sometimes (not so great, Reducio!), I always like to stress that a calorie is not a calorie, and when these come from whole foods, you are already better off.


Nicoise Salad with Added Veggies

Can you do something else to make them better! Absolutely!  I recommend adding more veggies to the recipe.For example, with a lovely Winter Nicoise Salad i had with a Cashew-Split Pea Spread, I made sure to add grilled asparagus and snow peas on top of the potatoes, green beans, fennel, blood orange and lettuce that the recipe called for.  Thus, you lower the calorie content per serving and at best you just end up having leftovers  for your lunch on the next day!  You could also opt to cut down on the oil required in (many)  of the recipes or leave it out altogether. For the most part, these dishes speak for themselves and are great as they are, like the wonderful jackfruit enfrijoladas with a chayote slaw and coconut sour “crema”.  Yes, please!


Go ahead, I summon you (Accio!) to give The Purple Carrot a try and discover your inner magician to create great tasting, nutrient dense food for your friends and family.  Esculentus!


A Healthy Pantry for a Healthy Year

When stocking a healthier pantry, look for whole grains, whole wheat pastas and a wide variety of canned beans with no-added salt. A wide array of no-salt added spices is always an easy way to provide flavor to dishes prepared last minute and with limited time. These also complement any availability of fresh herbs you may have available, you should treat them both as complements rather than substitutes in many recipes!

Check out this shopping list, items that you can get 2 or 3 times a month and have as staples to cook with, mixed with fresh produce and other perishable items. Clean your pantry from any junk foods (or any old out of date items). Say yes to the whole, and out with the processed and old!

1 lb each Mixed Dried Beans (Pinto, Cannelini, Black, Lentils)

4 15oz cans of no-salt added beans (kidney, pinto, black and garbanzo)

4 lbs whole grains (1 lb. each of quinoa, brown rice, wheat berries, hulled barley)

2lbs whole grain pasta of your choice

2 lbs rolled or steel-cut oats

1 6oz can of tomato paste

2 14.5 oz cans of no-salt added diced tomatoes

1 32oz box unsweetened soymilk

1 16oz jar of tahini (sesame paste)

1 18oz jar nut butter of your choice

1 8 oz bag each of raw almonds, walnuts and sunflower seeds

8 oz bag each un-sulfured dried apricots, dates and raisins

1 8oz bottle Dijon mustard

1 32oz bottle organic vinegar

1/2 lb nutritional yeast

Meal Delivery Services, Holiday World Tour Dinner

Hello Everyone!

I hope you are all good and had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones.  I would like to wish everyone a wonderful holiday season that is fast approaching (see below for my upcoming International Holiday Dinner for an indulging option!) .  As we all know, these times can be stressful and with plenty of entertaining, it may be hard to maintain a healthy eating regimen (believe me, i know after this weekend!).  If you would like to set up some coaching classes, coaching calls or cooking classes in December, or offer them as a gift to a loved one, please reach out to me directly to set these up. I’d love to help.


I’d like to share my thoughts on these meal delivery cooking services that are becoming ubiquitous.  I have been trying the service from “Plated” for a few weeks as well as “Hello Fresh”.  I was curious to see if there were good healthy options available .  As you know,  my motto is “you don’t have to be wealthy to be healthy” and i thought that these meals can help many people on the hard task to eat more plant-centric dishes.  I’m always in favor of ways to make it easier to cook for people through my cooking and coaching classes with plenty of tips, techniques and advise.  Overall, i found these services a fairly good option for people that don’t have much time to plan and shop in order to cook.
Having measured ingredients from pre-selected menus, with easy to follow instructions and delivered to your door is a win win from my point of view if people can get to cooking instead of ordering takeout with another myriad of services that now offer that (seamless, grubhub etc..).  A trainer i used to have always mentioned that you have already won the bronze medal just by showing up at the gym for a class.  I would say  in a similar way, you get a medal just for showing up at your kitchen ready to cook from real ingredients!  Having said that, I was surprised to see that the calorie portion of these (all vegetarian, some vegan) options i reviewed could easily top the 700 and up calorie range per portion. That is all an improvement when compared to the meat centric dishes!  However, a very easy way to adjust this to a more reasonable level is to cut (or preferably) eliminate the use of oils from the recipe.  Once again, that no-oil sauteeing technique i teach comes in rather handy for most all of the recipes involved.  This allows to cut back anywhere between 150 or more calories per serving, leaving ample room for a nice salad to begin the meal and a piece of fruit as dessert for a really nutrient-dense dinner.  Read: yes, you still have to shop at some point!  Moreover, feel free to further enrich your recipes by adding more vegetables that you may have at hand, something that would continue lowering the calorie count of the meal, and increase the nutrient density of the plate.  As an example, i added broccoli florets to a roasted sweet potatoes with braised greens salad (pictured above).  I could have added  a whole medley of broccoli, carrots and cauliflower florets and as an added benefit, this would even stretch the meal (that was meant to provide 2 servings) to 3 servings:  voila, lunch for tomorrow is ready!
I would have liked the services to have more vegetarian options, and vegan in particular.  I also noted that many of these options tended to provide about a half a block of tofu per person (and a lot of the vegetarian and vegan options almost always had tofu), way over the recommended amount, and clearly based on no other reason than to add “protein” to the dish.  I love tofu, i just see no reason to force feed it in such large amounts!  Again, you can always cut back on the amount added and use it for another recipe.  Finally, as is the case in lots of restaurants, the use of dairy and particularly cheese, is abused big time when making vegetarian options and i would have also liked to see more vegetarian options that had no cheese in it (most of the times i would simply omit the cheese in the recipe, cutting back a hefty amount of calories and fat at the same time).  I will perhaps continue looking for other services (Purple Carrot: I’m watching you!) and see what works and what does not work.  In any case, give it a go if you are curious with some of my suggestions and you


Please join me for an International Holiday Dinner Party!. I am partnering with Customs Catering for their 1st Annual Holiday Demo & Dinner Party on Saturday December 12th @ Kitchen Rental NYC located at 306 West 51st Street between 8th and 9th Ave.   Space is limited to 18 guests, so reserve as soon as possible and come with a friend!   I will be making a 3 course menu with dishes from around the world with a first course salad with salmon rillette (spread)  on sourdough bread from France, a hearty “Pastel de Choclo”, a Chilean version of a chicken pot pie with a corn crust on top and an Almond Cake with Mascarpone and Raspberry Pomegranate Compote to represent Italy.  You will also learn how to do the first course through a demo i’ll do!.   Hope to see you there! Link for the tickets below and more information below.

EMAIL CUSTOMSCATERING @ GMAIL.COM TO RESERVE YOUR SPACE TODAY! Please include names and what type of “ticket” (with alcohol or without) SPACE IS LIMITED TO ONLY 18! Please go to PayPal.Me/customscatering to pay $125 p/p for demo and dinner with a cocktail and wine, or $100 p/p for demo and dinner with a mocktail and non-alcoholic sparkling cider. Any questions, please call Mary Reilly at 917-363-9860. Kitchen Rental NYC is located on the ground floor of 306 W. 51 Street between 8th & 9th Avenues. Please arrive on Saturday, December 12, 2015 between 6:30 pm – 7 pm for your welcome cocktail and light bites. The evening will end at 10:30 pm.

Tickets for Dinner on Paypal for customscatering Here!


Ginger and Tomato Indian Lentil Soup (Dahl)

Flash Steam OnionsThere are few things as comforting as a starchy spicy soup during the cold winter months.  This is a very simple soup, inspired by the cuisines of India, with minor twists for a healthier, souped-up version if you will chock full of nutrients. On the one hand, I add a few ribs of celery to the mix –an item I love to include on my receipe repertoire in the winter-.  On the other hand, I also eliminate the use of oil for the initial sautee to cut back on fat calories and use a handful of spinach for an extra nutrient boost.  Finally I serve this dish over some steamed baby potatoes.  Often times, people ask me about their concern that dish may be too heavy on the carbs.  My simple answer is that these are the good carbs our body needs, our preferred source of fuel, coming from whole, unprocessed foods. So go ahead, and try this wonderful, fragrant dish that will warm you up and stick to your ribs in the middle of winter.

Makes about 6 servings

2 cups of red lentil (dahl), rinsed (yellow or green split peas are also an option)
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh garlic
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh lemongrass (if available, optional)
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
5 cups vegetable stock, no sodium added, or water
1 onion, diced
4 celery ribs, diced
2 cups crushed canned tomatoes, preferably no salt added
2 kaffir lime leaves (optional, if available or use dried bay leaves instead)
1 cup fresh spinach leaves, rinsed and lightly chopped
Pinch of red crushed chilies, optional

2 lbs steamed baby potatoes, for serving
Lemon Juice, for serving

Steam sautee diced onion and celery on a medium high heat soup with a few tbsp of stock or water on a pot for a few minutes until lightly brown, stirring from time to time, about 5 minutes.  Add ginger and lemongrass and continue sautéing for a few more minutes.  Add garlic, cumin turmeric and continue cooking for another 3 more minutes until spices are fragrant.  Add crushed tomatoes, stock, red lentils and kaffir lime leaves. Bring to a light simmer and cook uncovered mixing from time to time (the lentils may stick to the bottom of the pan if not stirred).  Continue cooking just until lentils are soft and fully cooked, about 20 minutes. Just before serving, add the spinach leaves, stir well and allow to wilt down for about another minute off the heat.

Serve on bowls over the steamed baby potatoes and garnish with a little bit of lemon juice and some freshly ground pepper or crushed red chilies if desired.

Escribano Arequipeño

Rinde para 8 personas como entrada.  Esta es una version de una entrada peruana basada en la saludable papa-originaria de la region andina- pero que no utiliza aceite de oliva para reducir la grasa saturada, reemplazada por aceitunas enteras y picadas que incluyen su fibra y agua.

IMG_21604 papas medianas amarillas o azules, sin pelar y cortadas en cubos de 2 cm
3 tomates, picados
1 pimiento rojo, picado
1 pimiento verde o Amarillo, picado
1 cucharada de chile jalapeño en escabeche, picado
3 cucharadas de perejil picado
4 cucharadas de vinagre de caña
4 cucharadas de aceitunas sin hueso, picadas

Coloque la papa picade en una vaporera (o colador de metal) y cocine al vapor sobre un poco de agua en una cacerola con tapa hasta que la papa esté suave, alrededor de 12 minutos.  Apague el fuego, destape la olla y deje que la papa se enfríe ligeramente.  Mientras tanto, haga el escabeche de los pimientos.  En una sartén coloque el vinagre y los pimientos y cocine a fuego medio lento por unos minutos hasta que los pimientos esten suaves y algo del vinagre se haya evaporado. Apague el fuego y deje enfriar por algunos minutos.

Cuando esté listo para server el Escribano Arequipeño, mezcle en un tazón grande las papas cocidas con los pimientos en vinagre y el resto de los ingredients.  Sazone con un poco del vinagre del chile jalapeño a su gusto.

Recipe Repertoire: Fat Free “Refried” Beans

Fat Free "Refried" BeansI love having these beans as a readily available snack in the fridge with crudités or no salt added oil free crackers.  I have been known to make tacos with warm corn tortillas, and a dollop of fresh salsa and chopped lettuce.  Voila dinner or lunch!  Feel free to add a jalapeno or some chili powder to make it spicy as well.


Fat Free "Refried" Beans IngredientsFat Free “Refried” Beans
Makes about 3 cups

3 cups cooked pinto beans or black beans, may also be canned no-salt-added, rinsed and drained
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Fat Free "Refried" Beans Ingredients Chopped1 cup no added sodium vegetable broth or water
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or chipotle pepper powder (optional)

In a sauté pan over medium-high heat add the onions and stir frequently.  Steam sauté the mixture by adding about 1 Tablespoon of vegetable stock at a time just to avoid the onions from sticking and Flash Steam Onionscook until the onions begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cumin and sauté for another minute adding water/broth in Tablespoon increments as needed. Reduce the heat to low, and add the cooked beans, about half a cup of broth, cumin, and cayenne pepper (if using), stir to combine, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, and using a food processor, a potato masher or a fork, to mash the beans to your desired texture, adding additional Fat Free "Refried" Beans Tacos Overheadliquid if needed.  These may also be pureed on a food processor.

The Road to Wellness

JPCweddingcropHi! I’m Chef Juan Pablo Chavez and I promote the benefits of a healthy eating lifestyle. I teach a series of classes in a fun, easy and approachable way and showcases the many benefits of a plant based diet through fresh and delightful recipes, tips and strategies for everyone.

Are you tired of following fad diets only to gain weight back even faster?  Is calorie counting and portion control too confusing?  Ready to take your health back and reboot yourself?   Then let’s get started!Beans Jamie

Join me in a quick and easy program focused on tasty, delicious whole food that will boost your nutritional intake, keep hunger at bay and even make you loose weight in the process!  I will provide a wealth of knowledge from doctor—in a no nonsense way and without any mumbo jumbo—thanks to my hands-on experience as the Wellness Chef at Whole Foods Market working with folks just like you.  I will also give you some tools and techniques so that busy individuals like you can cut to the chase and get back in top form through simple lifestyle changes.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the program.

Contact me info [at]