Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

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A Celebration of National Pomegranate Month and POM Juice Giveaway

November 18, 2009

This is turning into Giveaway Wednesdays or something, but I’m sure no one’s really complaining… ;) Besides, the father dear is arriving home today from his life in Cambodia for just two weeks (exciting!!!), so I feel the need to share the happiness by spreading the pomegranate-giveaway love!

POM Wonderful is celebrating National Pomegranate Month by offering to do a giveaway for three Living Healthy in the Real World readers. Pomegranates are little bundles of health and they’re so very pretty. POM Wonderful is hosting a recipe contest, and as I’m interested in experimenting with pomegranates in the kitchen, I thought I might have some fun with it. You all know how much I get a kick out of cooking/baking. These are two recipes that I have invented which I believe are gloriously tasty. Try them and tell me what you think!

Pomegranate Salad Dressing

Combine 1 peeled mandarin orange, 1 tbsp each cider vinegar and grape seed oil, 1/4 cup pomegranate arils, and a sprinkle each of salt and pepper in a blender. Blend and enjoy over salad! This is really yummy and has a strong vinegar flavour which I quite enjoy- it would be perfect for a summery salad. It’s also a beautiful pink colour. Feel free to add more pomegranate arils for enhanced fruitiness. I’ve also had the suggestion to add some mustard into the mix, which I think would be delicious, so next time I will certainly be trying that out. My roommate raved about this dressing, so that’s always a good sign.

Peanut Butter Pomegranate Brownies

Sound a little odd? Why yes, yes it is! But it’s also delicious. This is something I used to make a couple years ago, but without the pomegranate arils. When I tasted the POMx bars in California, I remembered these brownies and decided to try adding the arils- the bars and this homemade brownie are remarkably similar in taste and texture!

There are a couple variations on this recipe that I’ve made, mostly because PB2 and chocolate protein powder are things that I don’t include in recipes when other people are going to be eating the food. I’ll give you my favourite healthified version first, and the adapted (and easier) version second:

Soak 1/2 cup dates (roughly 12) in water for about an hour. Throw them in a food processor (without the water) and add 1/8 cup pomegranate arils. Pulse the dates/pomegranate arils until they’re in little chunky pieces. Mix up 1/2 cup PB2 with 1/4 cup water and add the PB2 mixture to the dates. Then add 1/8 cup NutriBiotic Vegan Chocolate Rice Protein Powder to the mixture as well. Pulse it all in the food processor until it is mixed up and clumped together. Spoon into a small dish and press down. Refrigerate or freeze and enjoy!

Easier version: Put 1/2 cup soaked dates in a food processor along with 1/8 cup pomegranate arils and pulse until they’re in small pieces. Add 1/2 cup all-natural peanut butter and 1/8 cup cocoa powder to the mixture and pulse until it’s all mixed together well; refrigerate/freeze.

I’m not going to lie, the first version is much tastier. And it’s got added protein and healthy goodness! However, both PB2 and this chocolate rice protein powder are quite expensive, and they’re also very difficult to find. The second version is still worth it, trust me. Unless you accidentally put twice as much cocoa powder into the mixture as the recipe calls for. I advise against that. Especially if you’re making the brownie for someone else (whoops, my bad). If that happens, you can frost this brownie with Better ‘n Peanut Butter and do a poor decorating job with a few pomegranate arils. Not that I would have done that, of course (damn, my secret is out).

My third favourite “recipe” for using pomegranate arils is to put some in the bottom of a champagne flute, add good quality champagne, and drink. Tastiness in a glass.

To enter to win a case of POM juice, I want to hear your favourite ways to use pomegranate arils/juice. Do you have any special ways that you use them? Do you have any suggestions for how my recipes mentioned here can be improved? If you have a really awesomely innovative/creative/delicious/healthy idea, your chances of being picked as winner might just increase a wee bit. There’s your motivation! Giveaway is for Canada/USA; winner announced one week from today (Wednesday, November 25).

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The 21 Foods List: Revamped

October 30, 2009

I asked and you answered. Thanks to everyone for your ideas with the 21 Foods List! Here it is, revamped; these are all the foods that I plan on making over the next year before my 22nd birthday, all of them from scratch and without the aid of bread makers/pasta machines etc:

1. Perogies

2. Pasta

3. Cinnamon buns

4. Jam

5. Marshmallows

6. Gnocchi

7. Baked donuts

8. Graham crackers

9. Cheesecake

10. Bagels

11. Pickles

12. English Muffins

13. Paella

14. Roasting a turkey

15. Nut butter

16. Yogurt

17. Pesto

18. Pate

19. Vegetable stock

20. Pita bread

21. Baklava

A couple others which I want to try but might not get accomplished this year, from your suggestions, are to make coffee, duck (I’m not sure how I’d prepare this- but the idea of tackling Peking duck is so intriguing and would be such a great challenge!), and lavender soup. At the beginning of October, as I was happily indulging in a square of layer cake that my awesome new roommate’s mum made, it crossed my mind that to make a layer cake would be another good one to add to this list. Therefore, I’m adding layer cake as a “bonus” bullet point to my 21 Foods List.

I have already crossed two off my list: roasting a turkey and making vegetable stock. They both turned out amazingly well! I roasted the turkey for Thanksgiving dinner with my mum looking on (following her directions- no one would trust me to bring along my own recipe because I’d likely try to “healthify” it and thus ruin it ;)), and I used a recipe from The Veganomicon for the vegetable stock. Both were simple and easy to do. There’s hardly anything to roasting a turkey! I was pleasantly surprised at the glorious simplicity of such a delicious dish (and, as my mum noted, if you’re using a butterball turkey like we do every holiday, it’s really just the combination of fat and salt that makes it. David Kessler, anyone?).

With the vegetable stock, the key is to use the “leftovers” from veggies. I threw in all of the ends of carrots and stumps of celery that are inedible (I saved them over the course of about a week), and besides that, the recipe just calls for one chopped onion, less than 1 tbsp of olive oil, and a pile of garlic. Delicious. It worked perfectly in my favourite split pea soup recipe. I’ve seen a lot of recipes to make vegetable stock which call for using a ton of vegetables, and I think it took me this long to make my own broth because I didn’t want to waste so many vegetables. But if you use the stumps, cores, peels etc that you wouldn’t eat anyways, vegetable stock becomes an incredibly economical and healthy dish. The best part about it, too, is that it only needs to simmer for a couple hours (throwing the veggies in with the water takes all of about 3 minutes), and it’s not overflowing with sodium! Even vegetable stocks that say “reduced salt” on them at the grocery store tend to have oodles of salt in them, so it’s nice to have that kind of control to ensure that there is either no salt, or very little, added to the homemade variety.

If you have any recipes for the above items on my 21 Foods List, please do send them my way. I’d love to try them out!

Also, for those of you who have been asking, here is my delicious bean ball recipe (click on link for more ideas for the best ways to eat them and for substitutions if you don’t have some of the ingredients readily available):

Energizing Protein-packed Bean Balls

Ingredients
1 can red kidney beans (rinsed and drained to remove any excess sodium)
2 heaping tbsp homemade ketchup (recipe below)
1 tbsp water
2 cloves garlic, minced finely
A few squirts of lemon juice
5 tbsp wheat germ
4 tbsp flaxseed meal
2 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 tbsp hemp seeds
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.

2. Mash the kidney beans in a mixing bowl so that there are still some chunks of beans. Add the rest of the ingredients and use a spoon to mix everything together until it is well combined.

3. Roll the bean mixture into small balls. You should get between about 20 and 30 balls.

4. Spread parchment paper on a baking sheet. Place the balls on the sheet and spray them with some olive oil. Bake for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned on the bottom, then flip them and bake for another 10 minutes.

To make the ketchup: Combine 1 can tomato paste, 2 tbsp water, 1 tbsp agave nectar (or honey), 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/8 tsp whole grain mustard, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp ground cloves and 2 tbsp cider vinegar. Refrigerate until use.

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for Taza Chocolate!

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Product Review and Giveaway: Taza Chocolate

October 28, 2009

Taza Chocolate kindly agreed to send me some of their products a couple weeks ago to taste-test and review. The reason why I first became interested in Taza Chocolate is because it is stone ground, organic, minimally processed, and direct trade (their press release states that they “always pay more than Fair Trade prices for our beans”). I like the fact that this company operates on a sustainability level to be more environmentally friendly and to produce chocolate which is of the best quality. Taza Chocolate also states that it is a member of Slow Food USA (which we had a lively discussion about back in April) and the ingredient list for their products is refreshingly short. This chocolate is dairy free, gluten free, and soy free as well.

I was given the opportunity to taste-test the Cacao Puro Chocolate Mexicano, Cinnamon Chocolate Mexicano, and the 70% dark chocolate bar. Before the sisterroommate left country for half a year, I asked her to taste the chocolate and tell me what she thought about it. She playfully agreed:

It’s very granular, but it tastes like original chocolate; it has a very pure base to it. It almost tastes a little barbaric, as though this is how they ate it at ceremonies in ancient times. It’s kind of sparkly, you can see the sugar in it… you can taste the sugar quite prominently. It would be really good melted in coffee. It has subtle overtones of rain-washed valleys.

(As you can see, the sisterroommate had fun with her review).

I also quite liked this chocolate, but I don’t think that the Chocolate Mexicano disks are the kind of chocolate I’d want to eat just by itself because the sugar granules are very large, so it’s a little bit too sweet for my liking. The dark chocolate bar is delicious by itself, however!

I tried using both kinds of Chocolate Mexicano in this amazing chocolate zucchini bread, and I can honestly say that this was one of the most decadently delicious breads I have ever made. The chocolate melted perfectly! I used less olive oil, added in some applesauce, and cut out the sugar (replacing part of it with agave nectar); the bread still turned out beautifully and I can’t wait to make it again with the Taza Chocolate.

I do not believe that chocolate is “a health food”, but this would be the perfect replacement in your diet if you normally like the sweet stuff. The cinnamon Chocolate Mexicano only has Dominican cacao beans, cane sugar, and Costa Rican cinnamon in it; the pure cacao has the same ingredients minus the cinnamon. The 70% dark chocolate bar contains Dominican Republic cacao beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter, and whole vanilla beans. These are all real ingredients, and for that reason, Taza Chocolate makes for a great treat.

Interested in trying Taza Chocolate for yourself? Leave a comment about your favourite way to cook/bake with chocolate, your favourite kind of chocolate, or anything else chocolate-related below to enter to win a 70% dark chocolate bar, 2 0z nibs, and Guajillo Chili Chocolate Mexicano! As always, if someone leaves a comment that really rocks my socks off, the prize is yours. Otherwise, I’ll be using a random number generator. Winner will be announced one week from today, on Wednesday, November 4th.

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Chewy and Crunchy Granola

September 13, 2009

Yesterday I ate:

- Big bowl of granola mixed with puffed wheat and topped with unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze, 1/2 sliced banana and a few sliced strawberries (okay, I lie. This was more like 1 normal sized bowl and then a small bowl following it. What can I say? It was a tasty meal!)

- 2 apples and a small bowl of homemade chili with a little wedge of tomato and basil focaccia bread

- 1 almond butter ball and a slice of gingerbread

- 1/2 banana with peanut butter and a few frozen strawberries

- Fresh farmer’s market carrots and celery with hummus, 4 slices of Yves “turkey” smeared with mustard and wrapped around asparagus stalks, and half a raw green pepper used as a scoop for some of that quinoa/bean/veggie dish which is STILL kicking around my fridge. I made enough of it to feed an army, apparently.

- Half a bottle of Yellowtail Cab Sauv (this was fuel for a top-to-bottom clean of the apartment)

Granola Recipe

Originally I wanted to use this recipe as an article for my column at The Uniter, but then I realized that granola is one of those recipes that seems to be just about everywhere and it wouldn’t be very exciting for the paper. So I’m posting it here instead! This is my really tasty Chewy and Crunchy Granola recipe:

Combine 1 1/2 cups oats, 2 tbsp sunflower oil, 3 tbsp brown rice syrup, generous shake of cinnamon, 1 tbsp each wheat germ and flaxseed meal, and 1/2 tbsp almond butter. I baked it in a 300 degrees F oven (much lower temperature than the original recipe called for) for only 20 minutes, flipping it partway through. So. Good. Definitely give this granola a try. It’s chewy and crunchy.

Next time I think I’ll try using 1 1/2 tbsp of oil and 1 tbsp of almond butter instead; I also want to try adding sunflower and sesame seeds to the mix. You could easily add more wheat germ and flax because it’s not noticeable at all with only a tbsp each.

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Cheezy Sauce Recipe

September 12, 2009

Yesterday, on Day 11 of the Vegan Challenge, I ate:

- 1 apple

- 1/4 cup almonds and a thick slice gingerbread

- Salad with romaine lettuce, spinach, quinoa/bean/veggie mixture, radishes, cucumber, tomato, green pepper, carrots, 1 slice Yves deli “turkey”, some raisins, and asparagus

- 1 almond butter ball, 1 calzone, snow peas with hummus, and 2 figs with almond butter

- A taste of the yummy chili that the sisterroommate made

- Air-popped popcorn with salt and spritz of oil, plus a glass of red wine.

Tofurky and Yves Product Reviews

Curiosity compelled me to try out the Yves processed “turkey”, just like it compelled me to try out the processed Tofurky franks. Both of them don’t taste too bad. They taste fairly similar to the real thing (by which I mean, they taste fairly processed, surprise surprise!). The franks are useful if you’re at a BBQ and the deli “meat” is useful if you have a hankering for a deli-style sandwich. I wouldn’t call them healthy, but I do like that they have so many added nutrients, particularly plenty of vitamin B12.

These two items would fall under the “glorified pretend-healthy jazzed-up food products” category, because really they’re just processed food with nutrients added like so many other items on the shelves, but part of Living in the Real World is that we’re going to eat non-real food sometimes. And, admittedly, there isn’t anything really unhealthy in the ingredient lists of either product. They  are like the Switzerland of the food products: they aren’t going to have a huge impact on your health in either extreme of positive or negative.

Nutritional Yeast Cheese Sauce Recipe

I asked one of the co-authors of The Veganomicon if I could post their Cheezy Sauce recipe so that you all know exactly what the hell it is that I’m talking about, and Isa kindly gave me her permission! Here it is:

Ingredients

2 cups water

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tbsp olive oil

3 cloves minced garlic

Pinch of dried thyme

1/4 tsp salt

Several pinches freshly ground black pepper

1/8 tsp turmeric

3/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp prepared yellow mustard

Directions

1. Combine the water and flour in a measuring cup and whisk with a fork until dissolved (a couple lumps are okay).

2. Preheat a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Place the oil and garlic in the pan and gently cook for about 2 minutes, stirring often and being careful not to burn the garlic.

3. Add the thyme, salt, and pepper, and cook for about 15 seconds. Add the water/flour mixture, turmeric, and nutritional yeast, and raise the heat to medium. Use a whisk to stir constantly. The mixture should start bubbling and thickening in about 3 minutes; if it doesn’t, turn the heat a bit higher.

4. Once the mixture is bubbling and thickening, stir and cook for about 2 more minutes. Add the lemon juice and mustard. The mixture should resemble a thick, melty cheese. Turn off the heat, and cover the pan to keep it warm until ready to use. The top might thicken a bit while it sits, but you can just stir it and it will be fine. Serve warm (on nachos, pastas, in calzones, or as a dip). Makes about 3 cups.

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Recipe: The Almost-Vegetarian Yummy Jumble of Nutrients from Random Ingredients in the Pantry

June 26, 2009

I’m guest blogging at Small Steps to Health! Head over to learn more about living healthy Goldilocks-style by eating a balanced amount of nutrients.

Having a balanced diet is really important. That’s why I usually like to eat from all sources of real food, both plant and animal. Recently, however, and quite unintentionally, I have become what I will refer to as an almost-vegetarian. I normally call myself a flexitarian, which is basically the exact same thing as an almost-vegetarian: a person who primarily eats plant-based foods but will occasionally eat some meat. There are some excellent definitions for a flexitarian at Urban Dictionary, my favorite of which is:

Flexitarian
A silly word to categorize people whose eating habits don’t already fit into a category but desperately want to belong to a label.
Me? I’m flexitarian. It’s like a vegetarian, but I eat meat too.

Labeling oneself as a flexitarian is, as the above definition points out, a little ridiculous because there are no clear “rules” as to how little meat you have to eat to be considered a “flexitarian”. There’s so much room for interpretation (and anyone who loves rhetoric has got to be amused by that)! My own vague interpretation of a flexitarian is someone who eats meat semi-regularly. And that’s how we arrive at almost-vegetarianism.

I ate a lot of meat while I was in Cambodia- at least once a day. But now that I’m back in Canada, and I have to cook for myself and the meat is expensive, I’ve found myself eating considerably less meat. In fact, I’ve only eaten meat on three occasions in the past four weeks: one bite of a chicken roti, one salmon burger, and one fillet of salmon. Other than that, it’s been plant-based or eggs and dairy. Because quite frankly, I don’t relish the idea of handling raw meat very much, and it’s rather pricey.

The biggest reason for my “almost-vegetarianism” (I’m using this term because the name implies that I’m basically a vegetarian who has slight omnivoric relapses at random) is quite simply because I haven’t been wanting meat. For years I’ve been the carnivore in the family. I was always the one gnawing on a gigantic turkey leg the size of my head at Christmas. But recently, even when I’ve had the option of eating meat (such as the wedding reception I attended a couple weeks ago), I’ve chosen vegetarian instead. For some reason I don’t really care much or miss eating meat regularly or even semi-regularly. Even seafood, which I completely adore, hasn’t been listed very high in my cravings lately.

So what am I eating and craving? Eggs (and cartons of egg whites) and almond butter, as well as cheese and milk, are part of nearly every meal (or snack, rather, seeing as I don’t ever seem to eat “meals”). When it occurred to me, with the aid of my trusty food journal, that I have become an almost-vegetarian, I figured I should probably act to make sure that I’m still getting a good balance of nutrients. And that includes a variety of sources, not only the above mentioned eggs, nut butters, and dairy products. Enter edemame and lentils!

There have been lentils at the back of my pantry for as long as I can remember but I’ve never cooked them because I didn’t really know what I should do with them. The only time I’ve ever eaten edemame has been at sushi restaurants, but I decided it was about time I try my hand at cooking them so I picked up a bag of them from the freezer aisle. Then, inspired by my jumble of a quinoa dish, I got cooking. This is what I’ve come up with:

The Almost-Vegetarian Yummy Jumble of Nutrients from Random Ingredients in the Pantry

Ingredients

- 1/2 cup dried lentils

- 1/2 cup whole grain rice

- 1 cup edemame

- 1/2 cup canned chickpeas

- 1/2 cup canned corn

- 2 cups frozen vegetables (my bag has broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower)

- Small handful of raisins

Method

1. Cook the lentils according to the package: bring them to a bowl and let them bubble away for about an hour. While you’re doing that, cook the whole grain rice in another pot on the stove.

2. The rice should be done twice as fast as the lentils, so empty out the rice into a big container and boil the edemame (about five minutes).

3. De-pod the edemame and add the beans to the rice; then, use the pot to boil the frozen vegetables. When they’re boiled, chop them up into smaller pieces and add them to the rice mixture as well.

3. Add the cooked lentils (you’ll know they’re cooked when they’re tender) to the rice. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and corn and toss them in, along with the raisins.

…and it’s just that easy! I didn’t realize we had quinoa in the pantry or I would have used that instead of the rice, so it would be a nice (and extra healthy) substitute. The combination of flavors and textures in this dish makes it delicious; it’s really tasty without any spices but I’m sure that if you wanted to experiment with different spices it would work really well with them, too. You could also steam rather than boil, which I would have done except my steamer has sadly gone missing.

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This batch lasts me for three meals, although it could easily last you four or five depending on how much you eat. It’s also rather colorful and pretty to look at. This is brimming with a variety of nutrients, and it’s all real, all-natural food. Check the ingredients lists on the frozen bags and the cans to ensure that there isn’t any salt, sugar, or other additives; if you can’t find cans of just plain chickpeas or corn, then be sure to rinse them off really well.

What are your favourite ingredients for ensuring that your eating is balanced?

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for Zhena’s Gypsy Tea!

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Sleeping Issues and a Cooking Class Recipe

May 11, 2009

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Can you fall asleep?

I have terrible sleeping problems, so when I was contacted about a new online resource, SleepTonight.com, which provides information about insomnia, I was very interested.  I have been lucky since coming to Cambodia: living here must really agree with me because after months and even years of sleeping poorly (nightmares and waking up frequently throughout the night), I am somehow finding myself able to sleep solidly throughout the night and without nightmares haunting me. It is a wonderful relief.

That being said, my newfound ability to sleep is a total fluke, and I’m not counting on it sticking around when I go back to Canada in a few weeks (the call for guest posts is still open, by the way!). When I used to have recurring nightmares, the best way to stop them from recurring was to figure out what exactly they meant. So I’m interested in this website because it looks at the science behind insomnia. It could be that from researching sleep problems and understanding a little bit more about them, we will be able to get better sleep. It’s worth a shot, anyways.  Anyone else out there have difficulties sleeping? What are some of your remedies?

Mango with Sticky Rice and Caramel Sauce

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Ingredients

2 cups sticky rice

4 tbsp palm sugar

2 tbsp shredded coconut

1/2 cup coconut milk

2 ripe mangos, sliced into pieces

1/2 tbsp butter

Sesame seeds

Method

1. Steam the sticky rice until well cooked.

2. Cook the coconut milk in a pan until boiling. Add palm sugar and keep stirring; boil about 5 minutes. Add butter and a little bit of water and mix until smooth.

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3. Arrange the sliced mango on a plate and place some of the sticky rice in the middle of the plate. Pour some of the caramel sauce on the mango slices and sticky rice, and add shredded coconut and sesame seeds on top of the rice if desired.

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Enjoy! Recipe serves four.

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Recipe: Banana Blossom Salad with Chicken

May 1, 2009

On Thursday I took a cooking class that lasted from 9am-4pm to learn how to cook Khmer dishes, and it was fantastic. There were only six of us students and our teacher took us to the market to tell us all about the different kinds of fruit and herbs. We also learned how the meat is all freshly killed at about 2am that day; anything that isn’t sold the day it’s been killed is turned into sausages. Some of the meat was really fresh. As in, still squirming around on the tray. Like these fish (yes, even a couple that were chopped in half were still moving. Sorry if you’re squeamish):

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When we got back to the open-air kitchen on the rooftop, we learned how to make four amazing dishes.

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Some of the other students enjoying fried spring rolls with a sweet and sour dipping sauce (my poor health freak eyes were bulging from the sockets at all the oil these spring rolls were fried in. But they were tasty!).

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Fish amok in a banana leaf cup

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Sticky rice with mango slices and caramel sauce

We also made banana flower salad with chicken (more of that below). It was all so delicious! Most of it was fairly easy to make, and I think that if you hunt around a little bit it shouldn’t be too difficult to find most of the ingredients no matter where you live. Or you can be creative and come up with local substitutions!

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We also received a recipe booklet at the end of the day. I’ll share more recipes with you as the month goes on, but this was my favorite dish that we made: the banana blossom salad.

Banana Blossom Salad with Chicken or Tofu (Serves 2)

Ingredients

1 banana flower

2 tbsp of mixed herbs (mint, basil, fishwort, Asian coriander)

150 g chicken breast, cut into pieces

1 chili pepper, julienne

juice of 1 lime

Dressing:

1 chili pepper

1 bird chili

juice of 2 limes

3 cloves of garlic

2 shallots

1 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp palm sugar

1 tsp salt

1 cup water

Method

1. Poach the chicken breast and set aside to cool off. Remove the leaves of the fresh herbs from the stems.

2. For this salad you can only use the young (inner) parts of the banana flower, so first take off the pink-purple outer layers. Cut the young flower leaves into thin slices. To prevent them from browning, immediately rinse the slices in diluted lime juice for 5 minutes, then take out and set aside.

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3. For the dressing, cut chili pepper, bird chili and garlic, put them in a mortar and grind a little (NOT to a paste!). Put the ground peppers and garlic in the water and add shallots, fish sauce, lime juice, salt, and palm sugar to taste. Mix well.

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4. Take the chicken and shred it into very small pieces. Put the banana flower leaves in a bowl, together with the chicken, mixed herbs, chili, and the dressing. Mix well and enjoy!

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A note about this dish…

Make sure that your herbs are fresh! Dried herbs won’t do. I’m not sure how easy it is to find banana flowers, but you could easily use something like zucchini sliced into thin strips. This is a salad that you could probably add all kinds of vegetables to in very thin strips and it would still be delicious. One of the other students was vegetarian so he used tofu (and left out the fish sauce and shrimp paste, adding more salt to compensate) and he said that it was great that way as well, so it’s vegetarian-friendly! What’s not to like?

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Day Five of the Sugar Challenge and the Quinoa Recipe!

March 12, 2009

You can view the recipe for my Quinoa with Chickpeas and Shrimp by checking out my Living Well article at The Uniter!

How are we all doing? There has been far too much talk of cupcakes in my life- between cupcake recipes on Twitter and people mentioning how they will make cupcakes as snacks while we work on a group project later today (I think I’ll be making more crackers so that I can have a healthy snack to munch on while everyone else enjoys the cupcakes… might have to put one aside for me for Sunday though!). But the cravings haven’t been too bad at all. I keep really wanting savory foods instead.

Yesterday I found myself eating more than was strictly necessary, and I’m not sure if it was because I’m more aware of being restricted in what I can eat. I was snacking lots on almonds and raisins! Food like that is being an enormous help right now because of the sweetness and the fats, I think. I am not used to eating very many higher fat foods (the cheese is also full-fat, whereas usually I choose reduced fat cheeses) so it’s “sticking to my ribs” very well and satiating my taste buds.

Yesterday I ate:

- 1 glass skim milk

- 1 apple, 1/2 with almond butter and 1/2 with peanut butter (couldn’t decide which kind of nut butter I wanted, so I figured I’d go with both!)

- 2 bowls of oatmeal mixed with water, banana, cinnamon, peanut butter, and a splash of skim milk

- 1 homemade wrap grilled on the George Foreman with homemade hummus, spinach, tomato, black pepper, and roast chicken

- Homemade crackers with cheddar cheese

- Quinoa dish

- Lots of almonds and raisins

- Frittata

- 2 apples

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Preparing for a week without added sugars of any kind

March 6, 2009

A few days ago I got a surprise package in the mail!

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The ever sweet and generous Rhodey Girl sent me a couple of Larabars to try- my first ever! Of course, I ripped open the cashew cookie bar immediately to try it. I am very particular about eating foods with nuts in them, but this bar was delicious. Nice and chewy and with a grand total of 2 ingredients: cashews and dates. This bar was also incredibly filling and it keeps its freshness if you want to save half of the bar for a snack later in the day. I would absolutely have it again.

I am saving the other bar, Pecan Pie (dates, pecans, almonds) for next week’s no-added-sugars challenge if I need a fall-back. I know that a lot of people out there love to eat bars as a quick way to fuel up midday, and Larabars are fantastic for that purpose. These energy-boosters are free of added sugars and incredibly healthy; they’re full of healthy fats, fiber, plenty of vitamins and minerals, and also contain a decent amount of protein. If you are a bar person, buy these rather than any other bar. And with ingredients as simple as this, you can even make your own at home!

What else will I be relying on? We’re back to the basics with really simple ingredients. But that does not mean that the meal plan will be boring! I fully intend to eat a diverse and balanced diet with tastiness in every mouthful. I have a few ideas that I am looking forward to trying and will be digging out some of my favorite cookbooks to assist me. My apple banana bread, rosemary crackers, and whole wheat tortillas will all be perfect for this challenge, too, for when I need a grain fix in sandwich form or for the crunch factor.

Print out this page which lists 100 different names for sugar and take it to the grocery store this weekend when you stock up on added-sugar-free foods! If you have any great recipes, leave them in the comments and I’ll link back to them once the challenge begins.

Remember:

- We like natural sugars. It’s the added sugars we’re avoiding for the week. Stock up on the fruit; bypass the yogurt sweetened with sugar.

- Sugar (white/brown/cane etc), honey, molasses, stevia, agave, syrup, evaporated cane juice, aspartame, and Splenda all count as added sugars.

- There are added sugars in a shockingly high amount of the foods we eat, even if you do not eat very much in the way of processed foods. Bag Lady explained in our last post that sugar is added in breads because it’s necessary for the chemical reaction to occur with yeast. Check the ingredients list in everything you eat, be it bread, a condiment, meat (especially with pre-cooked food like ham) or even a spice. There are all kinds of unusual ingredients lurking everywhere. Never assume that you know what’s in the food you’re eating- read the ingredients list first.

- Just because the nutrition facts table says there are 0 sugars in the food doesn’t mean that there are really 0 sugars in the food. In Canada, if there is less than 0.5g of sugar per serving in the food product, then the manufacturers are allowed to outright lie and state on the nutrition facts table that there is 0g of sugar. Read the ingredients list; it is far more honest than the nutrition facts table.

Have a wonderful weekend and let us all know what kinds of food you find or have recently found which would be useful in this challenge! Our challenge will kick off on Sunday.

If you’re interested in learning about some fitness while you cut back on sugar, Kelly from Every Gym’s Nightmare was kind enough to grant me an interview with her advice as a personal trainer- you can read all about it in my article, How to get the most out of your workout!

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