Spicy Thai Butternut Squash/Coconut Soup with Shrimp


This is a variation of a soup recipe I found on the Whole Foods recipe site, yet wanted to make it a little different.  This soup came out really nice and velvety, and although I really added extra heat, I will, add even more next time I make it.  I used already cubed butternut squash that is sold at Whole foods and then “light” coconut milk and nonfat organic chicken broth with some red Thai curry paste as the base.  I cooked the prawn separately and added them in at the end, but next time I make this I think I will add cubed chicken breast cooked ahead as well.  This dish can definitely tolerate more protein than the original recipe I was working with.  Also depending on your own personal tastes, play around with the garlic, red chili paste, and chili flakes to your specific likes.

I love Thai food in general, but it tasted especially good during chemo.  The heat and the spices kind of cover up that chemical flavor in your mouth, and soups were, for whatever reason, much easier to eat than whole foods.

Ingredients:

  • aprox 3 to 4 cups of cubed butternut squash
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped and used generously for soup base and shrimp stir fry
  • 3 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
  • 3 teaspoons red curry paste (more to taste if you like… I like super spicy myself)
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 cups non fat chicken broth
  • 1 (14 ounce) can of light coconut milk
  • Red chili flakes (as desired…. I like lots because I love spicy food)
  • 1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • optional: 1 chicken breast pre cooked 1 inch cubed
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Lime wedges

Directions:

1.  Take the butternut squash cubes and mix with a bit of olive oil and salt/pepper, and roast in oven @ 425 degrees for about 20 to 25 minutes.  You want it cooked enough to bring out the flavor, but not browned.  Pull from oven set aside.


2.  Heat oil in a large soup pot, oer medium high heat.  Add onion, garlic, and ginger.  Cook, stirring frequently, until “fragrant”, and the onion is translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Stir in curry past (more if you want it spicier), sugar, and salt, stir and cook about a minute or two longer.

3.  Stir in the roasted squash, broth and coconut milk and bring to a low boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until squash is tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

4.  Take the soup, and pureed in batches in high speed blender and return to soup pot.

5.  In stir fry pan, heat oil with garlic and some chili flakes to stir fry shrimp in batches until done.

6.  Take shrimp and if using optional cubed chicken, add to the soup base

7.  Ladle into soup bowls, and sprinkle with the chopped cilantro and lime wedges

Nutrition per 17 oz serving:  250 calories, 60 from fat, 23 grams of protein, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 175 of cholesterol, 480 of sodium




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White Bean Kale Soup 2 Ways: Vegetarian or with Pancetta/Sausage

 

 

I got the idea for this recipe from the website “A Cozy Kitchen”, that posted some gorgeous succulent photos of this dish on their Facebook page.  They featured it “French Onion Style”, with croutons and melted cheese over it.  Neither my boyfriend nor I are gluten sensitive (yes, we were both tested), but for some reason I’ve never been into bread in my soup.  “A Cozy Kitchen’s” version was a knock off of  a recipe in Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cookbook “My Father’s Daughter”, which I hadn’t really even thought of buying after seeing numerous articles circulating, making fun of some of the really unintentionally funny comments she had made in her book.  The basic premise of the recipe itself was pretty straightforward and simple, but after having made it, and then tooling around with it, there were some definite changes on my part.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 2 fennel bulbs (I love fennel so I use 2) stems and fronds removed, thinly sliced
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • Generous  shake of red chile flakes (I like spice so I went with lots)
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano (Gwyneth’s recipe calls for this amount, but I say use generous serving of mixed Italian dried seasonings)
  • (2) 15 ounce cans cannellini beans rinsed and drained (use canned to save time)
  • 2 pints of non fat chicken or vegetable stock (I used more because I love lots of broth)
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Shredded Parmesan Cheese

Optional:

  • 1/3 cup pancetta or organic spicy sausage, chopped added in at same time as the garlic
  • 1 cup chopped carrots added in about halfway through the onion/ fennel cooking process

Directions:

  1. Heat Olive Oil in a large heavy soup pot over medium heat.  Add the fennel and onion and saute for about 15 minutes until the moisture and sugar sweats out and is slightly caramelized.
  2. Optional: Add in chopped carrots at about 7 minutes in if you choose to use them… I like the color they add.
  3. Also Optional: When the fennel and onions are almost done cooking add in the chopped pancetta or sausage and stir until cooked
  4. Add the chile flakes, dried Italian herb mix, and pepper and cook for a minute or two
  5. Add the rinsed beans and stock, bring to a boil, and lower to a simmer, add salt to taste.
  6. My recipe adjustment, after adding the beans and broth and allowing to boil then simmer, I added in the chopped head of kale around 25 minutes and allowed the kale to cook for it seemed like at least 10 minutes, but the desired result is really up to the chef.  More cooking, less crunchy kale.  I suggest tasting the kale’s crunchiness,  while its cooking until its to your desired liking.  Its a tough little plant so don’t be fearful you’ll accidentally over cook it really quickly, that takes a long time.  It also holds up surprisingly well stored as left overs in the fridge overnight or even for a couple days without getting soggy.  Like I said, it’s a tough little plant!
  7. Dish up and serve warm, sprinklingwith shredded Parmesan cheese.  The cheese really rounds out the flavor profile.

 


*Note: Originally, the recipe called for cooking it for an hour, but I was afraid the beans would be too mushy, as that they were already from a can.  Additionally it said to stir in the kale leaves at the end and let cook for 2 -3 minutes, but if you’re like me, I don’t like really crunchy kale in my soup, I prefer it more “al dente”.

*Additional Notes: Another suggestion, if you really want to make this a hearty soup, is to add in some cooked sausage or organic chorizo towards the end.  I had this both ways, vegetarian style (which was delish and super low fat) and with some added animal protein.  I really did prefer it with the chopped pancetta cooked in with the fennel and onion and with some added spicy sausage at the end.  Whichever you like is up to you.  Both are super healthy, and as long as you choose lower fat organic sausage, the meat version is low in fat and healthy as well.

“Manly eating” meat-eater guys even love this!  My boyfriend scarfed down a huge bowl of it day 2 in the fridge and said “This still tastes awesome”



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Poached Pears in Saffron Broth

Yes!  Another healthy yet yummy recipe I learned from Rebecca Katz, author of “The Cancer Fighting Kitchen”, during a class she taught last February at Draeger’s Marketplace in the SF Bay Area. Don’t let the title of her

cookbook or class fool you into thinking she cooks boring healthy “granola head” type food.   Rebecca finished her training from the highly acclaimed “Natural Gourmet Institute” in New York City, and then went on to get her M.S in Nutrition because she realized there was a definite vacuum in conduits teaching medical professionals that good health and great food, can in fact, be one in the same. She was chef staff at the Deepak Chopra Center down in San Diego, and teaches medical professionals and students all around the country.

Honestly, my only prior interaction with poached pears was watching a contestant on BRAVO’s TV show “Top Chef” be sent home for making it for a “Tailgate Party” during the Chicago season.  It was not an “appropriate tailgate dish” was the explanation.  But it’s HEALTHY and appropriate for almost all other occasions. It is fairly easy to make, delicious and a beautiful looking dish that is great when entertaining guests.   Thanks to Rebecca for introducing me to this!

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups pear nectar click here for store bought example
  • Zest of one lemon in long pieces
  • 4 inches of peeled fresh ginger, cut into 1.4 inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons Grade B Maple Syrup
  • Generous Pinch of Saffron ( 12 to 15 threads
  • 2 ripe but firm pears (preferably Bosc or Comice, peeled, cut in half, seeded and stemmed

Directions:

  1. To make the broth, stir the pear nectar, lemon zest, ginger, maple syrup, and saffron together in a large saucepan or 3 qt saute pan over medium-high heat; Bring to a boil.
  2. Place the pear halves in the saucepan, flat side down.
  3. Place a piece of parchment paper over the pears and cover with a small plate to weight the pears down as they simmer.
  4. Lower the heat and simmer until the pears are tender and a knife pierces them all the way through without resistance.
  5. Remove the pears from the saucepan.
  6. Return the liquid to the heat, bring to a lively simmer, and cook until syrupy, about 10 minutes.
  7. Taste the liquid for a quick Fat/Acid/Salt/Sweet check.  It may need a pinch of salt and squeeze of lemon juice to balance the flavors.
  8. Serve the pears drizzled with the poaching liquid and topped with a dollop of nut cream or creme fraiche (just a little)

Variations:

  • For Vanilla broth – omit the lemon zest, ginger, maple syrup, and saffron and instead stir 2 teaspoons of  organic agave nectar into the pear nectar.  Cut a vanilla pod in half lengthwise, scrape the seeds into the saucepan, then throw in the pod.  Proceed with the recipe as above.
  • For a star anise broth – omit the lemon zest, ginger, maple syrup, and saffron, and instead stir in 4 pods of star anise, 4 whole cloves, 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 teaspoons of organic agave nectar, and 2 teaspoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice.  Proceed with the recipe as above.

Notes:

  • Prep time: 10 minutes  Cooking time: 40 minutes
  • Can be stored in an airtight container n the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days
  • Calories per serving:  225  Total Fat 0.2, Carbs 59 gms,  Protein 1 gm,: Fiber 4 gm Sodium 15 mg


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Springtime Fresh Berry Hazelnut Gorgonzola Salad

This is one of my absolute favorite salads!  I just started seeing strawberries popping up around here in California so I thought I would post this.  The photo above is a “fancy” way I serve this to guests by putting all the ingredients in a round cookie cutter “mold”, but you can just let it “all hang out” on a big old plate as well.  I’ve made this for dinner parties and catering events and the salad was gone in about 5 minutes so I know other people besides me like it.

This is how I prepare it if serving in a “molded form for a “fancier look”

This recipe is a snap to make, and I highly suggest using really fresh arugula, not the pre washed pre packaged stuff.  If you can’t find real fresh arugula the other will work, you just get a higher intensity of flavor play between the ingredients with the real stuff.

 

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup white Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon or mustard of your choice
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot minced
  • Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to taste

Whisk together and let rest while you assemble the salad.

  • 1 pint (or more if you like of cleaned organic fresh strawberries, sliced
  • Optional: 1/2 cup of organic fresh raspberries whole
  • 12 to 16 ounces of fresh arugula (preferred… so much better!) or the pre washed pre packaged kind
  • 1/4 red onion chopped
  • 4 to 6 ounces of Pt Reyes blue cheese crumbled (or your favorite kind) or Gorgonzola crumbled cheese
  • 1/2 cup of toasted hazelnuts (chopped or broken)

Directions:

  • Toss the greens and red onions  with the dressing (only use enough to barely coat the greens and store leftover dressing for later.)
  • Use a slotted spoon and spread the strawberries and if using raspberries, all over the salad
  • Sprinkle the blue or Gorgonzola cheese around on top
  • Top with the toasted hazelnuts

Enjoy!  This is one of my favorite salads




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Creamy Lowfat Roasted Cauliflower Fennel Soup

I came up with this soup idea after having made roasted cauliflower and fennel  during a snowstorm in Tahoe, and thought “This would taste even better by a fire as a piping hot bowl of soup”.  It ended up being one of the first times I had ever made a soup “from the hip” that actually tasted great the first time.  Its so easy to make, yet tastes like it must be really complex.  You don’t need any fancy equipment or ingredients that are hard to find or use.  I found these ingredients all at my really basic local Raley’s in Tahoe the first time I made it.  If you want to keep it vegetarian, just use vegetable broth/stock  and don’t use the cream or milk.

Ingredients:

  • 1  2 lb (approx) Cauliflower  cut down to 1 inch size pieces
  • 2 medium sized fennel bulbs, ends cut off and quartered
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 32 ounce box of nonfat organic free range chicken broth or vegetable stock
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 to 2 peeled minced cloves of garlic
  • Optional: 1/2 cup of organic half and half or whole milk if you want a creamy flavor

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Toss the cauliflower and fennel with olive oil and salt, and spread on foil lined oiled cookie sheet
  2. Roast aprox 2o -25 minutes, watching closely that the vegetables do not brown more than a light color.  Remove  from oven
  3. In a soup pot, saute the garlic and onion in the pan with olive oil over medium heat about 5 minutes until just soft, but not browned
  4. Toss in the cauliflower and fennel in the pot and coat with olive oil, add some more salt and heat
  5. Take the broth (and water if you need a bit extra) and pour until it just covers the veggies in the pot
  6. Bring to a low simmer for just about 10 to 12 minutes until a knife can pierce through the cauliflower easily
  7. Remove from burner, and add to blender, and puree in small batches.  Return the pureed mixture to the soup pot
  8. Reheat over medium low to medium heat, and for a more creamier soup, add the organic half and half or milk.
  9. Add salt and pepper to taste

Notes:

  • Serves 4
  • Approx calories (without cream): 115 per serving, 6 g of healthy fat, 6 g of protein
  • Feel free to adjust this recipe to your own tastes by using more cauliflower, adjust the amount of cream or milk (you don’t have to use any) and try different spices  or topped with chopped parsley or fennel fronds.  Sometimes I drizzle a little white truffle oil to add a little sophistication.  Stores well up to 3 days.  This soup is naturally low in calories, and even with the addition of the organic cream or milk.

 

 

 



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Quinoa Pasta with Spinach, Rainbow Swiss Chard, and Tomatoes


Quinoa pasta is made with a combination of quinoa, a grain from the “Incan time” which is rich in protein, and corn flour instead of wheat. The pay off is that its gluten free, and in my opinion tastes just as good as regular pasta.

In this particular dish, I cranked up the nutrition and flavor with lots of veggies and fresh herbs I picked up at the Farmer’s Market this past weekend and then tossed the pasta together while it’s warm, saturating the pasta with all the yummy flavors. The result is a fun pasta dish with major flavor; a gorgeous, colorful appearance with nice texture, high flavor, and high nutrition. I make this sometimes in large batches ahead of time and keep in the fridge since it reheats well, and is a nice make-ahead, healthy snack to have on hand.

Ingredients:

  • 1 8 ounce package gluten free quinoa spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 12 ounce containers of yellow, red or multicolor cherry tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves pressed
  • 1/4 cup diced red onions
  • 1 8 to 12 ounce package of baby spinach
  • 3 – 4 cups (approx) of Rainbow Swiss Chard, ribs removed, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped or dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped or dried thyme
  • 3 teaspoons chopped fresh or dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Addtional: 6 tablespoons of finely grated or shredded Parmesan
  • Optional: 2 pieces of low fat organic uncured turkey bacon, chopped

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to the bite , stirring occasionally to make sure pasta does not stick together during the cooking process.
  2. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta liquid.
  3. Heat oven to 425 degrees
  4. Mix the cherry tomatoes in a bowl with a dash of olive oil, and a pinch of the herbs
  5. Oil cookie sheet with olive oil and spread tomatoes out evenly over the pan
  6. Place in oven and set timer for 12 to 15 minutes; cook until the tomatoes have just softened, and remove
  7. In a large heavy skillet heat oil over medium heat, add the red onions, garlic and some fresh salt and pepper. If you’re using the turkey bacon you can add this now too.
  8. After a minute or two add pinch each of the each of the herbs. Continue to stir and infuse all the flavors together for about 30 seconds.
  9. Add the 1/4 cup pasta liquid and stir, scraping up browned bits
  10. Add about 1/2 cup of the roasted tomatoes (leave the rest for later), and the Spinach and Swiss Chard in small batches until just barely wilted and warmed
  11. Add in 2 tbsps of the cheese and the remainder of the herbs, and crushed red pepper
  12. Turn the heat off or down to warm
  13. Add the pasta to the skillet and toss with tongs quickly until the spinach, the Swiss Chard and all the prior ingredients are evenly mixed through
  14. Transfer to larger family style serving bowl or dish and add tomatoes to the top of the final dish
  15. Sprinkle with the remaining part of the cheese and serve family style; along with additional cheese

Serving Info: Serves 4, 375 Calories per serving, 13 grams of “good fat, and 7 grams of fiber



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Masala Chai (Indian Spiced Tea)


 

I love Indian spiced tea.  However I have found in some of the chain coffee houses, they are too sweet, too much milk, and in reality, an overpowering version of the real deal.   There are are a lot of pre made chai tea spice blends on the market, which are nowhere near as tasty if you make them yourself. Its easy to find several different variations of chai recipes, but I have found through trial and error, its best to use chai recipes, just as as guide, and then adjust them to your own taste.

All the spices and teas used in chai, have a multitude of beneficial health properties to them from cancer fighting properties, calming the gut, easing digestion, balancing blood sugar, reducing nausea and more.  Its a great compliment to any healthy diet, but a great beverage for patients undergoing chemo as well.

This particular recipe is a slight spin on the recipe I found in my new favorite book on spices, “Healing Spices: How to Use 50 Everyday and Exotic Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease “, by Dr Bharat B. Aggarwal.  I use “non dairy” organic lower calorie almond milk instead of regular milk.   I dry toast my spices over medium heat until I have released the flavors  then pulverize in an electric coffee grinder or grind in a mortar and pestle.  I usually make a big batch and then keep it heated on low heat in my crock pot.  I save calories from the higher calorie versions you get in coffee houses by using low calorie almond milk, use almost no sugar, and add sweetness through the all natural zero calorie sweetener, Stevia.

The basic spice blends for chai tea usually utilize all these spices or variations of : cardamon pods or seeds, cinnamon sticks or ground cinnamon, black or white peppercorns, cloves, fennel seeds, ground ginger and  black tea. (ie English Breakfast or Darjeeling). For this particular recipe, you will use the following:

Ingredients:

  • 10 – 15 cardamom pods or 1 tsp cardamom seeds (I prefer removing the seed from the pods myself, its fresher)
  • (1) 2 inch cinnamon stick
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 3 cups of organic lower calorie almond milk (with unsweetened vanilla flavor if you can find it)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 3 cups of water
  • 2 bags of black tea
  • Stevia – as needed, add sweetness to fit your own tastes

Directions

  1. Dry roast the cardamom seeds, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, and fennel seeds in a hot skillet until they release their “flavors”, aprox 3 minutes.  Be careful not to brown or burn too much, you want them just toasted.
  2. Put the spice mixture in a mortar and pestle and hand grind, or use an electric coffee grinder (my personal choice) and grind to a fine powder.
  3. Put the almond milk in a saucepan over medium heat, and add the ground spice mixture, brown sugar and ginger and allow the flavors to infuse through out the milk for about 5 to 10 minutes.  Do not let this boil!
  4. Heat the water in another pot and bring to a boil.  Add the tea bags and let steep for a few minutes. Remove the tea bags
  5. Personally I like to add the tea to my crock pot, and then pour the spiced almond milk through a strainer over it into the crock pot.  However you can just do this with any pot or saucepan you decide to combine the tea and milk in.
  6. Allow the chai to rest for a few minutes, and then add Stevia to add some extra sweetness if you like
  7. Enjoy!

 

 

 



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Indian Saffron Rice

I used brown basmati rice I get at Trader Joes. Brown rice is a lot healthier, and I personally think it tastes better than white rice anyways. I am head over heels for saffron as well, and use it in a lot of my cooking, not only Indian food. Saffron has many health benefits, including aiding digesting and being a natural anti inflammatory. I will be writing a blog post touting all the little known health benefits and history of saffron on here in the near future. This is a very simple recipe to use as a quick side dish

Ingredients:

  • 1/8 teaspoon saffron ground or powdered
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon organic butter
  • 1 cup uncooked brown (or white) basmati rice
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Rinse the rice thoroughly
  2. Steep the saffron in 1/2 cup of hot water
  3. In a skillet, melt the butter over medium heat, then stir in rice and salt. Add rice and stir until butter has coated all the rice
  4. Quickly pour in 1 1/2 cups of water , along with the 1/ cup of saffron water and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, if using brown rice set timer for 40 minutes, if white, 20 minutes
  6. And end of cooking time fluff with fork and cover until ready to use

* See finished photo in my last post: Healthy Slow Cooker Indian Chicken Vindaloo Recipe



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Healthy Slow Cooker Indian Chicken Vindaloo

I love Indian food! Indian food is one of my favorite types of food to eat now, but I really liked it when I was going through chemotherapy. The really powerful flavor profiles in some Indian foods, and the “heat”, helped to mask some of the annoying “chemo tastes” in my mouth while eating. My boyfriend used to hate Indian food and this is one of the dishes I used to convert him into a Indian food fan. Its so healthy because it utilizes a variety of spices which are enhanced by the added bonus that they not only really boost flavor, they come with multiple health benefits as well. This is such an easy recipe, high in nutrient density, chock full of spices with multiple health benefits, simply cooks in a crock pot over 5 to 6 hours, and will “wow” even the pickiest eater. This can also be cooked slowly over low heat on the stove in a dutch oven or large pot as well. It can be made with Chicken, Pork, Lamb or Veggies. The spices and “heat” can easily be adjusted to your own personal taste as well. I personally like my food really spicy and with a lot of heat, but the recipe below is the “mild” version.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsps vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (I use shallots because my boyfriend is allergic to garlic)
  • 1 1/2 tbsps of fresh ginger grated
  • 3/4 tbsps curry powder (mild)
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tbsp ground cardamom
  • 1.4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1.4 tsp cayenne or hot pepper
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 3 tbsps of olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsps of ground cinnamon initially or 1 cinnamon stick added to the pot
  • 1 can of tomato paste with 2 equal cans filled of water
  • 1 small white or yellow onion chopped
  • 1 lb of skinless organic chicken breasts or thighs quartered or cubed
  • (Optional) 1/2 of a small cauliflower cut into bite size piece

Directions:

  1. Puree the first 10 ingredients in a blender
  2. Pour puree, into the crock pot, add the tomato paste, water, cinnamon stick and stir
  3. In non stick skillet use 1 tablespoon olive oil and saute onions until soft, then brown chicken on all sides
  4. Add Chicken and Onions, (Cauliflower if using) to Crock Pot, stir and then cover
  5. Cook on low in a Crock Pot for 5 to 6 hours, or over the stove on medium low in a Dutch Oven or large pot
  6. Serve with Indian Saffron Brown Basmati Rice, with sauteed spinach, or by itself.
  7. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts

  • Servings per recipe: 3
  • Calories: aprox 300 calories, 100 calories from fat
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