How many of you have resolved to eating healthier this year? If not healthier per se, what about eliminating certain foods from your diet? I stay far, far away from such commitments, because ultimately, I know that I’m not that good at avoiding things I love. I’m a glutton for pain.
But, back in September, when I started losing a few pounds due to eating something bad while traveling, I started rethinking what I was putting in my body. I evaluated my diet and and started finding all kinds of reasons why this, that and the other should go! Among the list was my 3 daily eggs, daily cup of milk (even 2%), 6 tablespoons of honey, 4 cups of café con leche, and my nightly glass of Spanish dessert wine.
Oh, and white, starchy, yummy rice.
In a matter of weeks, I dropped 10 pounds. Boobs were depleted (something a Latina should never have to suffer through), hips trimmed by an inch, “man friend” complained the booty was flattening (something a Latina should never, ever have to suffer through), but hell if my abs and arms weren’t looking good! I was pleased and content with how I was feeling. I wasn’t bloated and craving other non-mentionables…
Once I took a good, hard, in-depth look at what I was eating and how effective the complete elimination turned to be (which I know comes with criticism), I looked at what I could eat that would still satisfy me and not cause withdrawals.
I needed to replace my rice. Brown rice, quinoa and other grains were obvious choices. Only problem is that brown rice is far from being part of my mostly Latin diet. And, quinoa? “¿Qué es eso, mija, mami?” Mami would ask. But, this time, I was determined to better my body and relish in seeing a sexier image…
In a concerted effort to eat leaner, I’ve come up with some go-to meals that are easy, simple to make and continue to bear qualities of goodness and fullness.
Since eliminating red meat is not even a considerable option, I simply had to find a suitable balance of enjoying carne with starches and simple carbs. Vaca frita is Cuban staple, but I seldom make it and honestly can’t remember the last time I even enjoyed it. In essence, it’s seared flank steak. I marinade it the same way I would to make ropa vieja. It’s incredibly good and the one time eating quasi crunchy steak is totally acceptable and not deemed unsophisticated.
But you have to know how to properly make it.
I was excited in making it when I went for this attempt at having red meat with brown rice. I seasoned the hell out of it and then paired it with salsa verde, or tomatillo salsa — to give it a different kinda kick. Plus salsa verde is good and another super simple side to make that complements meat really well. If you’ve not made that, do yourselves a favor and pick a huge bag of tomatillos and make this goodness.
What resulted was a simple bed of brown rice atop a pool of thinner salsa verde, I topped the rice with a few strips of the fried steak and garnished it with a bit more salsa. You know that wasn’t enough. The hidden secret…I’ll tell you! Par-seared steak underneath the salsa!
Genius! It worked on my first try and left me quite satisfied with having enough protein and flavor. Initially, I was missing the white rice, but I got over it as soon as I realized I had less calories to burn the next day.
No need to tell you the pictures here depict a smaller portion, nothing I’m interesting in implementing! It was for picture’s sake! Don’t be fooled, friends. This chica here can grub!
Vaca Frita con Salsa Verde (Tomatillo) & Brown Rice Recipe
- 2 cups cooked brown rice (follow manufacture's instructions)
- 1/2 lb. flan steak
- Juice from one lemon or lime
- 1/4 cup white onion, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 packet of Sazón Goya
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 stems parsley
- salt to taste
- Canola oil for frying
- 1 gallon of water for boiling
- 2 cups tomatillo salsa
Method (for Vaca Frita):
In large dutch oven (or pressure cooker) bring steak to boil, add bay leaf and salt. Cook until tender or about 45 minutes.. Remove from heat and transfer steak on to plate. Allow to chill. Shred steak into 1/2". Season with garlic, onion, juice from lemon or lime. Cover and let marinate for 1 hour. Remove excess liquid from marinade and reserve. In large skillet, heat canola oil. Add steak to skillet and fry until browned, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer onto plate. Squeeze any reserve lemon, lime marinade.
To plate, place 3/4 amount of steak on bottom of dish. Top with 2 tbsp. salsa verde, then brown rice. Arrange a few strips of the vaca frita and top off with a dime amount of salsa. Garnish with parsley.