“Pour some Maple Syrup on me” via Foodstand

Salad dressings, smoothies, pan sauces, coffee, tea, marinades, and glazes are just a few things I have and will continue to use maple syrup in. As a Personal Chef for the busy professional, you must continue to bring something new to your clients’ homes and dinner tables to excite their palate. Maple syrup is that something I bring to mine. Check out what Foodstand has to say about it! – CHEF FLO

Maple Roasted Pumpkins and Sweet Potatoes (minus walnuts and raisins)

“Maple syrup – it’s not just for pancakes! We have seen this sweet stuff popping up in unlikely recipes everywhere- and we’re loving it.  You don’t have to be Canadian to indulge your maple syrup obsession either (although Canada does now produce 80% of the world’s maple syrup!)

Maple syrup is trending on Foodstand because of its versatility and ability to bring a unique kind of sweetness.  As a natural sweetener, we can take advantage of maple syrup as a replacement for sugar, while reaping health benefits too. In moderation, maple syrup can keep you looking young and it shares similar health benefits to wine. It contains 54 antioxidants that keep eyes and skin in good shape, and 5 of these antioxidants can’t be found anywhere else in nature.  An added bonus: the maple syrup tapping process doesn’t hurt the maple trees or affect their lifespan at all, so no need to worry about our tree friends. =) “

Blog — Foodstand.

When Life Gives You Lemons #pickingupthepieces

During Portia Joyce Wellness’s Beyond The Resolutions: 11-Day, Winter Clean Eating Program, I probably use about 2 whole lemons in one day. My morning lemon elixir, to get my digestive enzymes started and to release toxins from my liver, alone uses 1 whole lemon for juicing. Then, throughout my day, I can possibly use a lemon or two for a massaged kale salad, to give a pâté some acidity or to season a soup. Thinking ahead, I realized there is a much wasted ingredient every time I juice a lemon and throw it in the trash.



The lemon zest is an essential part of flavoring in modern day cooking. Citrus fruit have the outer layer called a peel. The peel is made up of two parts, the flavedo and the pith. The pith is the white under layer of the peel which gives the citrus fruit its bitter characteristics. The flavedo, which is what the zest comes from, is the outer most layer of the peel. It contains the essential oils in citrus that is key to flavoring dishes without the use of its juice. Using the zest eliminates the addition of liquid and the “sour” and/or “sweet” taste of the fruit. The zest gives us the basic, yet powerful, flavor and smell of the fruit itself.


1. MICROPLANE/GRATER: This ingenious tool is designed to finely grate zest from citrus fruit such as lemons, limes, and oranges (oh, my). However, I have used my microplane to finely grate Parmagianno-Reggiano or hard cheeses, finely mince garlic, top off my coffee with ground nutmeg, or even use it to finely grate dark chocolate to top off a panna cotta. Depending on the size of the microplane or grater, you will get a different coarseness of zest.

  4414ZESTER_07_10_2012__17_55_32_456  microplane-zester-L 

2. ZESTER/CHANNEL KNIFE: This is very useful when trying to remove strips of zest from citrus fruit for garnish or to chop up finely and use as zest. The beginning product comes out a bit larger than if you were to just grate a lemon for zest finely. The channeling knife produces larger and longer ribbons of zest. Usually found on the opposite end of the zester or right beneath it on the same metallic piece. This is a great way to store citrus zest before use. Once ready to use, you can finely chop these ribbons of zest into a finer product.

                                                      brio-bar-zester-largezest1-300x260           citrus-zester


3. PEELER or PAIRING KNIFE: This method produces the largest portions of zest. This is the best way to zest citrus for later use. Whether using a peeler or knife, you just remove the zest, which is the first layer of rind. You never want to remove the white pith part of a citrus fruit. It is the most bitter part of the citrus. Removing these larger pieces can give you the best advantage of more yield. You can then julienne, cutting into long strips, them into a zest size, then finely chop those strips into a fine grated size. This is my favorite way of zesting in bulk to store for later use!


I take the zest and use it in many aspects of my cooking. I add orange zest into coffee to make an orange spiced coffee and some added cinnamon for more flavor. I always use lemon zest in making my homemade vinaigrettes or dressings. This is the best way I know to add the lemony citrus flavor to my recipe without adding additional acidity or liquid. Zest is amazing any way you use it. So please, next time you know you are about to juice lemons for a cleanse, drink, or recipe, ZEST IT FIRST! You never know when you need that extra burst of citrus in your life.

Healthy Recipe: Spinach Pesto

Yum dee lish! Simple, quick, and tasty…a perfect formula for a tasty recipe!

Enjoy…I know I did!


-Chef Flo

HEARTy Soups And Stews

Moving to New Jersey from Las Vegas was, in my mind, not going to be such a big transition. I know that weather and overall vibes would definitely change but since I grew up here I didn’t think it would be such a big ordeal. I lived in Vegas since 2006. That’s a whopping seven some-odd years to get accustomed to a certain way of life. Again, I did move to New Jersey in 2009 for at least eight months for work and a life hiatus. (Mind you, I moved back to Vegas because I couldn’t take the weather) Now that I’m rambling on, let me get back to my point. This pre-winter chill is getting me down. Not spiritually or mentally, but physically. I totally fell off my Plantstrong™ diet once I moved out here. The temptations of cuisines and the like that were new and that I haven’t had in a while grew too strong to withstand. I gave in to my stomach and I let my amazing way of life diminish. I was weak!

When the holiday season began, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to jump on right now. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year was coming, I wouldn’t be able to turn away those yummy temptations.

But then, I thought to myself, if I want to get back on it, there’s no time to waste, just do it, JUMP!

The longer I wait the longer the list of excuses I’ll most likely have to continue to stray away. So here I go…I’m JUMPING!

The easiest type of food to make and best tasting are definitely those hearty soups and stews. It takes no time to create these amazing dishes and oh my, does it do a body good. I’m going to be listing a few of my favorite recipes that I’ve came across the past year that I’ve been eating Plantstrong™. With these cold days here  in New Jersey, these dishes make me feel both powered up and toasty on the inside. Definitely cures the common cold! Try one, two, or even all these recipes. Let me know what you think, along with any variations you’ve made to accommodate those foodie taste buds and for the picky children! Enjoy!

Plantstrong™ Recipes:

Engine 2 Mexican-Lime Soup

Variation: I love to add 1 or 2 (depending how much you love legumes) cans of red kidney beans! Makes it a thicker soup plus adds more Vitamin C and Potassium to you meal.

Engine 2 Savory Lentil Soup

Variation: Hot sauce, hot sauce, and more hot sauce! I love  hot sauce, it’s the condiment I have next to water on my dinner table. Add your favorite hot sauce to this dish and it’ll totally make it brighter and more refreshing! Now, just watch out for the sodium content. My favorite is Cholula! Remember the thing with sodium in recipes, think about all components of your meal before adding salt. A lot of condiments and canned products may be packed with sodium. Keep and overall eye on the salt so that it doesn’t overwhelm the dish.

Engine 2 Mushroom Stroganoff

Variation: This is perfect as it is. Thanks, Engine 2 team! For all you gluten-free eaters, just replace the flour and pasta with brown rice flour (add one extra tablespoon) (can be found at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods Market) and Lundberg’s Penne Brown Rice Pasta then you’re all set!

WFM Hearty Greens Soup and Bowtie Pasta and Tomatoes

Variations: First and foremost, to make it Plantstrong™, make sure you eliminate the oil, salt and the cheese. Just cook with a little vegetable broth and you can top it off with some nutritional yeast. If you can’t find escarole or rainbow, green, or red chard, by all means use some kale and spinach (my go-to greens).  This recipe can be a little bland so what I do is just add a teaspoon or two of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar to make this soup pop with much flavor.

WFM Creamy Curry Cauliflower Soup (My Favorite)

Variations: At the very end, I like to add a bit of cooked red lentils. It makes it a whole other character with that extra addition, trust me! And if you like just just a tad bit, bolder, I like to use a tablespoon and a half of garam masala. It can be found in the spice aisle and Whole Foods Market. This addition makes it your own!


Alright, so there’s the list of amazing soups and stews that will keep you warm through the winter holidays as well as power up your heart, body and soul. This is what I’ll be having this week to come so if you have any questions, please feel free to drop me a line. I’m open to comments, questions, and concerns. Leave it here in the comments section or email me at florvilking@servemenow.org!

Thanks and happy healthy eating!

-Chef Flo


A Very Vegan Cyber Monday

As the rest of the world wakes up, the other half has already started their shopping online on this Cyber Monday 2012. From deals to steals, retailers of all kinds have knocked down their prices for all their online available products from 15-75% off! I’ve seen a few deals that have been going on since Black Friday and found plenty of new “doorbusters” just for today’s shopping frenzy. I’ve already completed my “essential Christmas list,” you know, the godchildren, nieces, and nephews. To me, they’re the most important and the ones that you’ll probably get real slack not giving gifts to. So I made sure I took care of them first. Today will be for me and the specialty gifts!


Some may be looking for electronics, some clothing, and most others, toys online. I’m focusing my efforts on the “hard to find” items. Think about it, instead of driving around looking for those specialty gifts (the ones you know you probably won’t find in stores but try anyway and buy yourself something instead) out there in the cold, I just made a fresh cup of coffee, put on my warmest robe, and planted myself in my office in front of the computer to get my hunting on. Even my Pandora app is promoting Cyber Monday deals on its commercials. (No, I won’t get the No Ads App…unless there’s a sale) That’s what makes today the success it is, you don’t have to trudge around in that nasty cold weather with all those unpleasant fellow shoppers. I know some may say that’s what make holiday shopping…fun?!?! I say, “Not my cup of tea!”

Personally, I am on the search for Vegan-friendly products. I woke up this morning and got my daily Vegan Cuts email with all their online deals! LOVE IT! I think I found what I was looking for right away. They had this amazing Vegan Snack Gift Basket with all these different delectable treats to enjoy by yourself or share with your meat-eating friends. Hopefully, they won’t fall in love with them too much! Here’s the Holiday Gift Package that they have on sale for ONLY $39!

Well, plus a $5.95 shipping fee but come on, you didn’t leave your house to purchase this. Fork it over and call it a day.

My favorite item in this package is the Holy Kakow chocolate syrup. I can cook with it along with topping my desserts and making hot chocolate with it. I’m too excited!

So if anyone out there is looking for that one gift for their vegan friend or a fellow foodie, I suggest this amazing syrup. It’s the most versatile vegan syrup I’ve ever found and enjoyed. Made from organic and raw ingredients, this item is dairy, gluten, and soy free along without using refined sugars. If anything the best chocolate syrup for you out there. Trust me, this thing rocks! Once I get mine in, I’ll post some amazing recipes using this syrup along with other ingredients I’ve found on Vegan Cuts and online. Please do the same!

Happy Cyber Monday and Happy Holidays!