Caribbean Ceviche for all mankind

Just back from the West Coast from what turned out to be a mini food tour. Having been raised in Puerto Rico into my young adulthood you can safely assume I’m not a natural lover of winter. I was even surprised at how smitten I was by the snow covered hills and massive icicles in Lake Tahoe. For that moment it felt like I was home in paradise. We ventured from Lake Tahoe to Napa, Sonoma and ended in San Francisco where we visited chef friends, vineyards and many restaurants along the way. And like my unforgettable trip last year to Buenos Aires and Uruguay, this too was a priceless experience to start the year with!

Self-inflicted culinary adventures and childhood is where I draw most of my inspiration. Where ceviche originated is debatable but it is nonetheless a very popular dish across Latin America. It is raw fish or seafood that has been marinated in citrus such as lemon, lime and orange. The acid in the citrus is what “cooks” the fish. So technically it is a raw food, just not vegan. I created this vegan version based on the local tropical flavors of Puerto Rico. The texture and flavor is very close to the “real” thing. Great meal when you feel you want to eat something different and exotic.

I like to use shiitake mushrooms but you can mix it up with your favorite mushroom, although some work better than others. You’ll be amazed at how delicious it is! This dish is also great for those concerned with protein intake on a vegan diet. According to a study done at the University of Maryland, shiitake mushrooms contain all eight essential amino acids better than any other protein source, including red meat and eggs. That sounds like pretty good stuff!

1-2 oranges for juicing
2 lemons, freshly squeezed
2 limes, freshly squeezed
1/4 red onions, fine diced
2 cups wild mushroom mix or favorite type, cleaned and diced
1 avocado, hass varietal, diced
1 mango, medium, diced
1/4 cup cilantro, finely minced
Gray sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a medium size bowl, mix the orange, lemon, and lime juices. Add the red onions and let soak for a couple of minutes to allow the citrus acid to break down the onion and make it easier to digest.

Meanwhile, clean mushrooms by placing them in a bowl of cold water and massage with your hands to remove any dirt. Using a kitchen or paper towel, lay the mushrooms out and pat dry.

Add the mushrooms to the bowl, mix well and let them sit for up to 30 minutes.

While mushrooms marinade, chop mango, avocado and cilantro.

Strain the mushrooms and onions from mixture and squeeze gently to release some liquid. Discard the liquid. In a separate bowl, mix well the mushroom, onion, mango, avocado and cilantro.

Enjoy with baked tostones!

Orange Dark Chocolate Raw Tart… decadence!

This is one of the most delicious cakes I have prepared so far, by sure!
The consistency is lighter and softer than other vegan pies I have tried, so smooth you’ll feel it melting in your mouth…. delicious!! Hope you enjoy=]

1 ½ cup coconut oil, melted
½ cup raw cacao powder
½ cup raw carob powder
1 cup water
1 cup raw agave nectar
½ cup raw almond butter
3 avocado
2 ½ tablespoons orange zest
½ cup raw walnuts
½ cup raw pecans
½ cup raw almonds
5 dates

1.Crust preparation:: In the food processor process the almonds, pecans, walnuts and dates. Place in a brownie pan and mix in 1/2 cup of melted coconut oil. Press firmly until it becomes a compact crust.

2.Filling preparation:: Now process the avocados, agave nectar, water, cacao powder, carob powder and orange zest in the food processor. Once fully incorporated, add the rest of the coconut oil and almond butter and process until velvety.

3.Assembling:: Place the chocolate paste into the nut crust and even with a spatula. Dust a bit of carob powder on top or decorate with candied orange zest.

4.Setting:: Chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours, it’s even better over night! Enjoy and nom nom…

Basil Cilantro Pesto…

Another wonderful way for incorporating leafy greens in your diet! This pesto is great for having a jar full in the refrigerator and use for spreading on top of warm, toasty breads, soups, salads, stir fries or what ever you want! Both basil and cilantro are highly nutritious filled with vitamins and minerals. Both are also useful for removing heavy metals from the blood and it’s so fast and easy to make!

In the blender add four handfuls of fresh sweet basil, two handfuls of fresh cilantro, five cloves garlic, a pinch of sea salt, little grounded black pepper and about three cups of extra virgin olive oil. Blend away until the leaves are finely chopped and well incorporated into the oil. Keep in glass mason jars… set!

My first post….A Nut Milk?!

Hola! I’m thrilled to be sharing with you at Pedaling for Peace a little bit about food and nutrition!

I will admit, my fingers had been feeling a quiver of shyness. I wanted the first post to be extra special- not digging for clever remarks or sweet nothings to impress you with the latest research and bombard you with references on how to do it “right”.  We are all smart here. We can Google just about anything these days. The challenge was bringing the essence of me to you not hidden by someone else’s research. What is totally and purely me? Coming from a mindset of “I know nothing” I like to share the innocence of looking at each day as if it was the first on earth. I’m that two year old full of wonder playing in the sandbox throwing sand at the other kids because I think it’s funny. I walk with rocks in my pockets and crumbs on my face. But you’ll get to know more about me as we go along!

NutmilkSo I will do what I do when I meet make new friends, a Nut Milk! I travel with my nut milk bags and love showing everyone how to make their own milk because I feel it’s so easy and taste way better than store bought. It’s also a great beginning of setting a basic foundation for making dietary and lifestyle changes. And if by any chance I share a thing or two that inspires you to live a healthier happier life, then I am glad I was there for you just in time.


4 cups filtered water (use less for a creamier milk)
1 cup brazil nuts, soaking not required
¼ cup dates, soaked and pitted
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch sea salt

Blend all ingredients for about 2 minutes to allow the fat in the nuts to emulsify. Filter through a nut milk bag, nylon bag or mesh vegetable/produce bag and enjoy!

Make about 2-4 quarts and keep in a glass jar such as a mason jar for up to 3-5 days. Enjoy!

Hope you enjoy of what is to be one of many posts!  I’d love to hear your feedback, questions or just plain old shoot the breeze.

xo Carla

Carla Serrano, Ninja Chef on Patrol with Pedaling for Peace!

Carla S. Ninja ChefALOHA! 

I am very pleased to have the honor of introducing you all to Ms. Carla Serrano our Ninja Chef and Nutritionist Extraordinaire!

She began her culinary career as a holistic nutrition coach, but her desire to create appealing, healthy food coupled with variety (outside the norm of salads and green drinks), inspired her to devote an ever increasing time to the culinary arts. While all styles of food have their place nutritionally, she noticed the disciplinary struggle within herself and her clients.  Simply put, she just wasn’t having fun being so strict!

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, she moved to New York City 15 years ago. She traded in her corporate job to do what she loves and now devotes herself full-time to teaching about healthy food preparation and nutrition to a wide range of individuals and organizations. Her most recent adventure was living 3 months in Buenos Aires teaching culinary nutrition as well as catering events at the coveted Punta del Este in Uruguay.  

Her company, The Raw Kitchen NYC Catering & Events is dedicated to making healthy food creative, enjoyable, colorful and fun. When she’s not working she’s most likely to spend her time in Puerto Rico or with her daughter in Alaska.

And now a few words from Carla –

     I’m Carla, a natural and raw food chef, founder of The Raw Kitchen Catering & Events, world inspired natural cuisine. Travel is where I get my ideas. Life is where get my inspiration. My kitchen is eclectic with flirty colors, flavors and textures we often crave. For the past decade I have devoted myself to reinventing our favorite foods in a guiltless way- perfect for a party and adaptable enough for the health conscious.

I challenge my cuisine to be creative, upbeat, fun, traditional, transitional and inspirational. Often raw, mostly vegan, gluten-free, always free of refined sugars and organic when at all possible. I guess you could say I do like a challenge!

YES!  So what does all this mean for you…?

 A whole new way look at health and fitness based on the “Still not Rocket Science” of you are what you eat, coupled with flexibility and great ingredients with a serious look at health.  As many of you know, I prefer the vegan diet for many reasons.  I also know that I am only one man in this world, and my thoughts do not constitute a reality for everyone, much the opposite in fact!  I am trusting that Ms. Serrano will be able to bring more health into the lives of those of you who do not wish to be vegan at this time, and yet still want the benefits of a great food!

Aloha and Bon Appetite!

Health Force Nutritionals

As best we can tell, HealthForce is  the next frontier in health and nutrition for the human species AND for business honor and ethics on ALL points; Everything is taken into consideration and chosen for the highest good, from packaging to selection of ingredients down to details I cannot imagine simply because I do not have the sheer foundation of knowledge and personal understanding of the synergy in health and wellness as they do. We were stoked to have had the chance to be briefly associated with Healthforce.  We were very excited to learn from them, but the contact for us seems to have simply disappeared, bummer for us as we really looked forward to working together.  Aloha wherever you are.

As far as health products, we give them a 10 out of 10.  This, we feel is the best you could hope to buy as of May 6, 2012. Aloha!