Tag Archives: spearmint

Quinoa Tabbouleh

24 Sep

I am a lover of Middle-eastern food… ever since I visited Israel 15 years ago, I have been a fan of falafels, hummus, pita bread, rice pilaf, dolmades, among others.

Tabbouleh would be part of that fan list, however, the tabboulehs made usually in Middle-Eastern restaurants are too heavy on the parsley for my taste.  And now that I am trying to avoid wheat sometimes, well I rather order the arab salad of tomatoes, cucumbers and onions and skip the tabbouleh all together.  Traditionally, tabbouleh is made with cracked wheat.

For the last time I cooked in the Yoga Center, I wanted to make a Middle-Eastern inspired menu and it all revolved around the fact I wanted to make this salad.  We made hummus, a salad with mixed herbs including mint, rice with spinach, mushrooms and nuts, which is not like the rice pilafs I am used to having at middle-eastern restaurants, but it fit better for the Yoga appetites.

This recipe also makes use of the abundance of avocados we have right now in Puerto Rico…  and what dish is not instantly improved by adding avocado to it??


Recipe by KarmaFree Cooking


2 cups of quinoa

1 vegetable bouillon cube

The zest and juice of 6 yellow lemons

2 bunches of scallions, thinly sliced

1 large red onion, finely chopped

1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

1 cup of fresh spearmint leaves, julienned

4 cups of cherry tomatoes, halved

2 seedless cucumbers, unpeeled and diced

1 avocado, diced

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper


  1. Cook the quinoa first… by adding 4 cups of water to a medium saucepan with the vegetable bouillon cube.  When the water reaches a boiling point, add the quinoa.  Add a drizzle of olive oil, just like you would when making rice.  Cover and lower the heat to simmer until the quinoa cooks, about 15-20 minutes.
  2. After the quinoa is done, fluff it with a fork and season with ¼ cup of the olive oil and the zest and juice of 3 lemons.  Set aside.  If you are making this ahead of time, you can stop here and store the cooked quinoa in the refrigerator after it has had a chance to cool off a bit.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the scallions, onions, parsley, spearmint leaves, tomatoes, and cucumbers.  Add the cooked quinoa and toss all the ingredients together.  Season the whole salad with the additional ¼ cup of olive oil, the zest and juice of the remaining 3 lemons, salt and pepper to taste.  Toss again well to combine.  Let all the flavors combine about 30mins – 1 hour before serving.

When you’re about to serve, garnish with the pieces of avocado.  Serve at room temperature or refrigerate and serve cold.

Avocado Pasta

22 Sep

Avocado season is here…  and even though a few slices of avocado is the perfect accompaniment to any meal, and with so many ripening all at the same time, I’ve had to find creative ways to eat them all by myself…

This Avocado Pasta has become the last few weeks in my go-to lunch… it’s easy to make, mainly an assembly of flavors, because all you are cooking is the pasta.  Think of it like a pasta salad meets a guacamole and they decide to hang out together…  It’s refreshing because of the addition of the spearmint leaves.  Do not skip them… it’s partly what makes this dish special.  Trust… and your taste buds will be rewarded.

Recipe by KarmaFree Cooking



2 cups uncooked pasta, I use gluten-free quinoa pasta

2 medium avocados, chopped

1 shallot, minced

15-20 grape tomatoes, halved

15 spearmint leaves and 5 extra ones, all julienned and separated

5-6 sprigs of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

The juice of 1 lime

3 large handfuls arugula

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Garlic Salt

Salt and Pepper


  1. Cook by boiling your desired pasta in salty water according to the package directions…  I used quinoa pasta this time around.  I buy it at Costco.
  2. While the water boils and past cooks, prepare the avocado mixture – in a bowl mix together the avocados, shallot, lime juice, tomatoes, parsley, 15 spearmint leaves.  Season with olive oil, salt and pepper and toss well to combine the flavors.

Recipe by KarmaFree Cooking

3.  When the pasta is fully cooked, drain it well and add to the bowl where the avocados and tomatoes have been marinating.  Toss well to combine.  Add the arugula leaves, a light sprinkle of garlic salt and extra spearmint leaves and toss one final time to combine and for the arugula to wilt a bit.

Serve immediately.

Recipe by KarmaFree Cooking

Virgin Mojito

24 Jul

When it’s Summer, all I want is something refreshing to cool down the temperature… be it at home, at the beach or at a friend’s.

When someone asks you to BYOB (Bring Your Own Beverage), it doesn’t need to be something alcoholic… but it doesn’t need to be something boring either. You can bring a punch, make sangria or take advantage of all the refreshing mint that evokes the freshness of summer.

Just a few ingredients and you’ll have a great non-alcoholic alternative that will make any pregnant mom or young kid feel like they’re not missing anything at all.


Virgin Mojito 1


½ cup of Simply Limeade
The juice of 2-3 limes
½ cup of lemon/lime sparkling water or natural lemon/lime soda
2 tbs of brown sugar simple syrup or 2 tbs of turbinado sugar
4-5 mint leaves, sliced thinly or chopped
½ a lime, sliced thinly
Ice cubes


  1. Add the lime slices, sugar and mint leaves to an old fashioned glass. Using a muddler or the back of a wooden spoon, smash together all the ingredients.
  2. Add the limeade juice, fresh lime juice and sparkling water or natural soda.   Mix well with a stirrer and enjoy!!!


Virgin Mojito 3


Spearmint Infusion

18 Jun

I learned to drink herbal teas when I was living in NYC… I started making myself chamomile and linden teas to help me go to sleep.  Chamomile and linden are both commonly used as relaxers.   Later on, I also started to drink teas as part of natural treatments – that’s how I got to know lemongrass tea, peppermint tea, Siberian ginseng tea, cold care mixes, etc.  

But I have never been too fond of hot beverages while living in Puerto Rico… I just start sweating after drinking any hot tea, for a treatment or not.   But, when I visited Israel in 2000 , ittle did I know I would fall in love with a tea… or an infusion, I should really say.  At the end of each meal we would be offered a mint tea – a handful of spearmint leaves in hot water; mix the water up with brown sugar or honey and you have the loveliest after dinner drink.  It helps in digestion and tastes awesome.  During our visit to Israel, I would finish all our meals with a few cups of that…

But since then I have learned to be very careful when asking for a mint tea… in a Middle Eastern restaurant or otherwise.  Because tea is really a specific plant that’s dried or cured and commercial teas out there mix that plant with other herbs to make flavored teas…  Tea usually has caffeine, the main reason I do not drink coffee or chocolate.  So every time I get the craving of mint tea after eating falafels, etc.  I am usually left with the unfulfilled desire for one…  And since that trip I remember with fondness those spearmint infusions. 

Spearmint is not as widely available here in Puerto Rico and when I tried to grow it here next the beach, the leaves get too bruised by the constant heat. But now, with my CSA box, I get spearmint grown in Aibonito on a weekly basis. So I can enjoy my spearmint tea while watching my TiVo…


 Spearmint 1


2 sprigs of spearmint
About 1 ½ cups of water
Honey or Brown Sugar to taste


  1. In a small saucepan with a cover, bring the water to a boil.  When water is boiling (or at least shows little bubbles in the bottom of the pan), turn the stove off.  Place the spearmint sprigs in the water and cover.
  2. Wait for at least 15-20 minutes for the leaves to steep in the hot water.
  3. Strain the leaves from the water into a mug and season with honey, brown sugar or even agave nectar…. your preference.


This is great as an after-dinner drink… they serve it at Le Bernadin in NYC.  They use French presses used to make coffee to present the spearmint leaves and water… when you press on the lever, then you’re left with the liquid infused with spearmint flavor.  Yummy…

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