Sunday, February 16, 2014

THAI INSPIRED NOODLE SOUP

Here we are again, the weekend has flown by as usual and we have had our 659 storm this winter.  Normally winter doesn’t bother me but Mother Nature does not seem to be in her happy place so far this year. 

There aren’t a whole lot of Thai restaurant choices where I live… actually besides the local Italian restaurant, our selection is limited to pizza, Tim Hortons and Subway, so when I was craving some Thai a couple of weeks ago I threw this soup together.  As usual I didn’t measure anything, that’s just how I roll most of the time, so I wasn’t sure I would be able to recreate it, but I had another go at it tonight and it turned out much the same.

THAI INSPIRED NOODLE SOUP

  • 1 block organic firm tofu (or chicken if you’re not a tofu fan)
  • 5 – 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 – 3 tsp Thai Fish Sauce
  • 2 tsp Sriracha Sauce (I added more but I like mine spicy)
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 large garlic clove minced
  • 3 – 4 green onions chopped
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
  • Handful of bean sprouts (optional)
  • Brown rice vermicelli
  • handful of fresh Cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • salt, pepper, granulated garlic, EVOO
  • Hot Sesame Oil (optional)

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Remove as much water from the tofu as possible.  I put mine between a couple of layers of paper towel and press with my cast iron pan for a few minutes.

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Cut in cubes, toss with a little EVOO, salt, pepper, granulated garlic and a few drops of Hot Sesame Oil if you’re using.  Let sit for 15 mins or so.

Saute mushrooms, set aside.  Saute tofu till slightly crispy, set aside. 

In a large pot combine stock, ginger, fish sauce, Sriracha, and minced garlic.  Simmer over medium heat for 15 mins.  Add tofu mushrooms, carrots and noodles. The amount of noodles is up to you.  If you want more of a broth soup add less noodles, a thicker soup add more.  Simmer till noodles are cooked and carrots are soft.  Add lime juice, cilantro, green onions, a couple more drops of hot sesame oil, and bean sprouts.

Serve immediately

thai inspired spicy noodles

Those of you who know me in real life know I am the kitchen gadget queen.  I think I have every gadget / appliance that was ever made for the kitchen.  It’s an addiction really. I have a big mandolin that will julienne for me but one of my more recent purchases is a Julienne Peeler.  This thing is the bomb!  If you don’t have one, and you suck at hate julienning veggies you need to get one of these. It works just like a veggie peeler and in seconds you have nice thin julienned strips.

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Have a good week everyone!

~ Jackie 

 

 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Keeping Up With The Resolutions

Happy New Year!!!  I hope your Christmas and New Year were amazing and that you had a chance to spend some quality time with friends and family.

Here we are 12 days in to the new year and with the new year comes resolutions. Are you starting to lose your resolve?  Personally I don’t make them anymore but when I did they were always pretty much the same, lose weight, eat healthy, exercise, save money etc., nothing earth shattering there.  Like most people I would go full steam ahead for the first month or so then, well you know the story.  Life gets in the way, you get bored, aren’t seeing the results you want and just like that it’s “New Year Resolutions, no I didn’t make any of those”. 

One thing I found that I did and still do sometimes is think of things in a big picture kind of way but don’t think of the small steps and achievements that are going to get me the end goal.  Exercise for example, In your mind you see yourself running a marathon or doing a full Insanity workout within the firs week, but in reality you can’t remember the last time you exercised and can only walk 2k or find yourself out of breath and struggling with the Insanity warm up.  Frustration, disappointment, negative self talk sets in and you give up.  Yup, I’ve been there. 

Then there’s eating healthy.  You’ve decided this is the year you’re going to do it and be a healthy eating machine.  You stock your fridge full of fruit and veggies.  Call on your friend Google to find you a bunch of healthy recipes and for awhile you’re loving those salads and healthy meals but then, you get bored of eating the same thing, realize it takes a lot more time to prepare meals, and then you get tired of cooking.  So what do you do,  you start throwing in the “healthy” frozen dinners, you know the ones I’m talking about Lean Cuisine, WW frozen dinners, Healthy Request… the list is endless.  They say they’re healthy right on the box so it has to be true, right?  Not so much. 

Let’s take a look at WW English Muffin Sandwich (taken from their website)

WHOLE GRAIN ENGLISH MUFFIN (WATER, ENRICHED BLEACHED WHEAT FLOUR [WHEAT FLOUR, MALTED BARLEY FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID], WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, YEAST, DEGERMINATED YELLOW CORN FLOUR, DEGERMINATED YELLOW CORN MEAL, WHEAT GLUTEN, GLUCOSE-FRUCTOSE, MODIFIED POTATO STARCH, SOYBEAN OIL, SALT, VINEGAR, FUMARIC ACID, CALCIUM SULFATE, POTASSIUM SORBATE, AZODICARBONAMIDE, SOY LECITHIN), EGG WHITE PATTY (LIQUID EGG WHITES, CORNSTARCH, XANTHAN GUM, BETA-CAROTENE), BACON STYLE TURKEY (TURKEY, WATER, SALT, DEXTROSE, SODIUM PHOSPHATES, SODIUM ERYTHORBATE, SODIUM NITRITE, SMOKE), PROCESSED AMERICAN CHEESE (MILK, WATER, CREAM, BACTERIAL CULTURES, SODIUM PHOSPHATE, SALT, LACTIC ACID, SORBIC ACID, COLOUR, SODIUM CITRATE, MICROBIAL ENZYMES).

If I were to make this in my kitchen – Eggs, whole grain English Muffin, white old cheddar cheese, butter, salt and pepper

The frozen version isn’t real food.  It contains sugar, has to have synthetic nutrients added back in because the natural forms are processed out, contains rancid inflammation promoting oils, and when was the last time you saw Fumaric Acid at the Farmers Market or on the shelf at the grocery store.  Fumaric Acid occurs in nature and is present in all living things, however, the form used in our food is chemically synthesized.  In order to do this a catalyst is used to transform malic acid  (also produced by all living organisms )to fumaric acid.  The industrial malic acid (in other words made in a lab), used in our foods is chemically produced from a petrochemical source such as benzene or butane. Now doesn’t that sound delightful.  

So if your resolution was to eat healthier here are a few suggestions to get you started. Some you may already know but sometimes we just need a little reminder.  It doesn’t have to be all or nothing start small so you don’t get overwhelmed.

BREAKFAST

  • Have a smoothie for breakfast every day or even a couple times a week.  1 cup wild blueberries (or berry of choice) 2 cups organic baby spinach (trust me you won’t even know it’s there), 1 cup milk of choice (almond, soy, coconut, cows).  You can add ground flax, almond butter, plain Greek yogurt, hemp seeds or chia seeds to give your smoothie more staying power.  Experiment – but use the berries and spinach as your base and build from that.  Just think you will have more servings of fruit and veggies at breakfast than most people get all day.
  • Skip the breakfast sandwiches at the drive thru.  Make your own healthy version at home.  It’s probably takes less time than sitting in the long line up at the drive thru.  All you need is a couple of eggs, whole wheat English Muffin, and some white old cheddar (skip the plastic cheese and the neon orange cheddar full of dyes/food colouring). Or make a batch of breakfast burritos (eggs, onion, peppers, baby spinach, cheese) and freeze them.  All you have to do is take them out of the freezer and pop them into the microwave, or leave them wrapped in foil and heat them in the toaster oven.
  • Make a large batch of oatmeal at the beginning of the week and just reheat as the week goes on.  If you’re rolling your eyes at the thought of oatmeal, don’t just have plain oatmeal.  Cook it in almond milk, and don’t forget about some tasty add-ins like grated apple, cinnamon, pure pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, think apple pie or pumpkin pie oats.  If you chop a banana up and add it when cooking it will melt right in.  Top with some blueberries or strawberries, some almonds or walnuts and a drizzle of REAL maple syrup or a sprinkle of coconut sugar.
  • Switch out boxed frozen waffles or pancakes for your own.  Make a big batch of healthy homemade waffles or pancakes on the weekend, freeze them on a cookie sheet then once frozen transfer them to a freezer bag and in the mornings pop them in to the toaster and voila breakfast.  Try swapping out the maple syrup for some fruit spread for something different (Crofter’s is a good brand)
  • Make your own granola.  Here’s a link to the post I did for Cinnamon Walnut Granola.  In he morning top a bowl of plain Greek yogurt with a drizzle of local raw (unpasteurized) honey and a handful of your own homemade granola.          

Cinnamon Walnut Granola             

 

Remember consistent small changes will eventually add up to big changes.

~~ Jackie

 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Mom’s Minestrone

Another family favourite.  Mom has been making this soup for years and it’s always a hit.  It’s a tasty, hearty and warming soup on a chilly day. 

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There’s a little bit of chopping involved but it’s worth it.

Mom’s Minestrone

  • EVOO
  • 1/2 lb Italian Sausage
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 (or 5, I love garlic) cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup each chopped celery, carrot, pepper (colour of choice)
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • pinch thyme, and crushed red chilies
  • bay leaf
  • 19 zo can diced tomates
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup kidney beans
  • 1/2 cup pasta
  • salt and pepper
  • chopped fresh parsley

Remove sausage from casing and sauté in a little EVOO till browned.  Add onion, garlic, celery, carrot and peppers.  Sauté till soft. Stir in basil, thyme, bay leaf, chillies, salt, pepper, tomatoes and stock.  Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add cabbage and pasta.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  Add beans and heat through add chopped fresh parsley when cooking is done and stir in.

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Serve as is or top with a few croutons and some fresh grated parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

~~ Jackie

* note – The ingredients in the pictures are for a larger batch of the recipe.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Brew Your Own Kombucha–Part 2

Now that you have your own Kombucha brewed it’s time to flavour and bottle it.  Before I get to that here are a few points to remember when brewing and drinking your Kombucha

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  • Kombuca and Scoby’s do not like metal.  Don’t brew your Kombucha in a metal container (I use glass) and avoid using metal utensils.
  • Sterilize your brewing container and bottles with hot / boiling water and white vinegar.  Residue left from dish soap can harm your Scoby.
  • If you are taking a break from brewing or have extra Scoby’s you can store them at room temperature in a container with some unflavoured brew and cooled sweet tea mixture. Make sure they are covered in liquid.  I keep mine in a glass jar with a lid.  Some say cover with a lid some say cover with cloth as you would when brewing Kombucha.  You can also store them the same way in the fridge for longer periods of time.
  • Your Scoby should be white, ivory, beige or brown (depending on the type of tea used.  Darker tea has a tendency to stain the Scoby).  If you notice any other colours (blue, black, red, or green) this is a sign of mould.  You will have to throw out your batch and Scoby.  That’s why it is a good idea to keep a couple spare Scoby’s.
  • Brewing temperature should be between 70 and 80 degrees.
  • When your brew is finished the ph will be between 2.6 and 4.0
  • The Scoby may sit on top or sink to the bottom.  It doesn’t matter.  If is sinks to the bottom of the jar the new baby Scoby will form at the top of the jar.
  • If you are new to fermented foods/drinks start off slow when consuming Kombucha.  More isn’t always better, so start off small and work your way up to a cup or two a day.  It is recommended that you don’t drink it all in one sitting and spread it out over the day.

Bottling and Flavouring

Once your brew has reached the flavour you like (at least 7 – 10 days brewing) it’s time to bottle it. (Remember the longer you brew the less sweet it is). You don’t have to flavour your Komucha you can bottle it as is. 

Sterilize your bottles.  I use glass flip top bottles you can use mason jars or any other glass bottle you have around.

With clean hands or clean non-metal utensils remove your Scoby’s and at least a cup of the unflavoured finished brew and set aside. 

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New Scoby

Get your flavouring ingredients ready. You can use fresh fruit, fruit juice, and herbs.  The amount of flavouring used depends on your taste.

  • strawberry lemonade (organic strawberries , lemon) If your lemons aren’t organic you will want to slice  the yellow skin or peel the lemon.  Pesticides would not be beneficial to the brew.
  • Pineapple
  • Apple cinnamon
  • lemon and fresh ginger (my favourite)

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Put whatever flavouring you choose to use in your bottles using a funnel pour the kombucha in the bottles cover and let sit on the counter for another day for the second ferment.  You can then store them in the fridge.  They will continue to ferment in the fridge but at a very slow rate.

For the batch above I added some fresh grated turmeric root in with my lemon and ginger.  It was a nice addition.

This is picture of my Scoby hotel.  It sits on top of my fridge. You can see the different layers.

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Make Your Own Kombucha - Part 1

Enjoy!

~~Jackie