Superfood Triple Berry Chia Pudding

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Today Angela made Skinnytaste’s Superfood Triple Berry Chia Pudding for Peter and herself.  We have made this often in different versions before…real easy, real delicious, and super healthy to boot! What’s not to like?  This reminds me that I could actually make chia pudding in the hotel room for breakfast or a refreshing after work snack. All I need is a bottle.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk of choice (She used unsweetened cashew milk)
  • 3/4 cup fresh berries (blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries work well)
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • sweetener to taste (She used three packs of Safeway stevia which is just erythritol and rebiana, but I’m sure xylitol would work too)

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Preparation:

Mix it all up in a jar. Cover and shake vigorously, chill for 15 minutes, shake again and refrigerate overnight.

This makes a great breakfast, snack, or dessert! It’s beautifully minimalist, just like this post (I’m in Vegas shooting a short with Audrey but longer posts will be coming soon!)

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Adapted from:

skinnytaste.com

Spaghetti Squash Tots

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Spaghetti squash is one of our favorite vegetables.  We’ve made salads, cakes and lasagna with it in the past.  Today I improvised simple spaghetti squash tots with what I have in the fridge and pantry, and the girls finished all three trays of them.  I enjoy it very much when I do something by feel.  It’s more fun to line up the spice bottles and just shake my wrist instead of measuring everything precisely.  A dash of this.  A dash of that.  I felt like a witch concocting some wicked delicious magic.  

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You can eat the tots by themselves or with a little dollop of pesto sauce.

Spaghetti Squash Tots Ingredients:

1 small spaghetti squash

1/2 cup shredded fat free Cheddar cheese (packed, 2 oz)

1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese (packed, 1 oz)

1/4 cup oat bran

1 egg + 3 egg whites

1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste

1 shallot (thinly sliced)

1/4 teaspoon Garlic & Herb Seasoning

1/4 teaspoon dry oregano leaves

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon paprika

A dash of cayenne pepper

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cut the squash lengthwise in half.  Scoop out and discard seeds.  Microwave each half with 2 tablespoon of water in a container for 8 minutes.  Scoop out the flesh and let cool.

Mix in all the ingredients well.  Spoon the mixture on the baking dish lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 35 minutes or until golden.

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A note about spaghetti squash: try it! It’s super easy to make since you can just cook it in the microwave. Also, you can eat it just like pasta but it’s got more fiber and less starch! Truly a miracle vegetable.

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This spaghetti squash was from our nanny’s garden.

Sandwiches and the Art of Sauntering

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“Give me a wildness whose glance no civilization can endure — as if we lived on the marrow of koodoos devoured raw.” by Henry David Thoreau

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When I pointed to the sky and told Angela that the bright stars meant we would have a sunny day tomorrow, Angela sighed, “More of your old wives’ tales…”  So I was extra happy to see the glorious blue sky this morning.  I was proven right in the eyes of my 16-year-old daughter who often thinks that I am stupid.

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We took our extended family on one of our favorite hikes in San Francisco — Land’s End, the closest wilderness that we could experience without taking a long drive. The best things in life are free and this hike is one of them.

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When Audrey was little, she couldn’t understand why anyone would take a walk.  She thought one walked to get somewhere, and she’d always be asking “are we there yet?” when we strolled.  That, of course, was a long time ago.  Now she is quite a master at taking walks, or as Thoreau put it – sauntering.

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Thoreau wrote in his book Walking: “I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks — who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering, which word is beautifully derived from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going a la Sainte Terre, to the Holy Land.”

So, we didn’t just walk.  We practiced the art of sauntering.

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Roast pork shoulder sandwich with fresh basil pesto and mushroom onion gravy

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Roast turkey breast avocado tomato sandwich with mustard and mayo

We walked up a ravenous appetite and had the most satisfying sandwiches and soup made from leftovers.  For lunches, I like to forage in my own fridge for leftovers and reinvent them into something new and delicious.  I never throw any food away.

Ingredients for Turkey Vegetable Soup:

1 Roast turkey carcass

3 cups sliced celery

1 onion

2 cups of chopped carrots

2 cups of mushrooms

2 zucchinis

3 cups of chopped kale

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 bay leaves

Salt and pepper to taste.

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Boil the turkey carcass with bay leaves, onion, celery and carrots for about hour and half.  Use a spoon to skim the fat off the top.  Take out carcass, remove meat, chopped it up and set aside.  Discard the bone.  Add the remaining vegetables with the turkey meat and cook for 20 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste.

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The roasted pork shoulder from the night before was made with a similar recipe as the pork tenderloin, except that I brined it for three hours and roasted it at 325F for 3 hours.  I added two 2 onions at the 4 corners of the baking dish to give it a little steam.  Then I added the roasted onion to the porcini gravy. The leftovers made the most delicious sandwiches.

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Peter’s brother roasted the Turkey a couple of days ago, and today we made sandwiches and soup of the leftovers.

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Classic mustard and mayonnaise turkey sandwich

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Lemon and Olive Oil Marinated Fennel Salad with Burrata and Mint

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A mí me gusta la comida china, pero a mis hijas no les gusta. Estoy, estás, está, estamos, estáis, están. This is how we normally spend our Sundays, helping Audrey while she scrambles to finish her Spanish homework and panics while Angela does her integral calculus alone in her room and panics quietly.

Today, however, there will be no panicking or scrambling. It’s winter break, Angela is sleeping well past noon, and we’re spending the day stuffing our faces. Happy holidays from the Hui/Chens!

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Audrey having breakfast with cousin Katie. My brother-in-law’s family is making their annual visit from Los Angeles. This is Audrey’s favorite time of the year.

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Lemon and Olive Oil Marinated Fennel Salad with Burrata and Mint

adapted from http://food52.com/recipes/21008-lemon-olive-oil-marinated-fennel-with-burrata-mint

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Ingredients:

2 medium heads fennel, cored and very thinly sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving

6 strips lemon zest, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons lemon juice

8 ounces burrata

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Grilled or broiled bread slices, for serving

Place fennel, oil, zest and lemon juice in a shallow dish; season with salt and pepper. Let stand 10 minutes. (Meanwhile, grill or broil bread slices, if serving.) Just before serving, arrange fennel salad on a large platter. Scatter burrata and mint over fennel. Drizzle with additional olive oil, if desired.

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This is the crunchiest, creamiest and the most refreshing salad I’ve had for a long time.

Burrata is my new favorite cheese. It’s essentially scraps of fresh mozzarella tied into a neat package full of cream and little bits of leftover fresh mozzarella. And it’s delicious. I mean, it’s fresh mozzarella upgraded to first class. It is heaven in dairy form. We’ve been including it in all sorts of food lately, from crostini to caprese salad. Try it. You’ll like it. A little cream never killed anybody, no?

Winter is coming. Stock up now!

Winter is coming

Winter is coming. Brace yourself for stressful last-minute hosting, loud drunk family friends, bone-chilling weather, seasonal affective disorder, and deep-rooted feelings of inadequacy exacerbated by the excessive commercialization of the holidays happy wintertime cheer!

Thanks Debbie Downer

No one likes Debbie Downer

Since it’s that time of the year again, I thought I’d make a list of some great gifts to give to your favorite people. Don’t get stuck in line with everyone else who waited until the last minute to buy presents! If department stores start putting up Christmas decorations in October, then who says the week before Thanksgiving isn’t too soon to start planning for the New Year?

Christmas came early for us this week when we received a wonderfully thoughtful care package from Words to Sweat By, a cute online boutique that makes adorable fitness apparel and accessories. Audrey, Angela, and I each got beautiful personalized charm bracelets, and each of us received personalized products, including motivational bracelets and a gorgeous infinity scarf. Honestly, these are the best gifts ever because a lot of them are individually handmade (the bracelets were hand-stamped! check etsy! so vintage! so chic!) and what better way to get through the cold winter days than to up those endorphin levels?

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Words to Sweat By makes great bracelets with personalized messages. You can write your own message or choose from many, including “I ❤ XC,” “Just Keep Going,” and “Lift Others Up.” They even come with multifunctional bands that you can wear to help keep your bracelet in place.

In addition to those wonderful bracelets we also received some clothing:

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How lovely! The scarf is made of 100% organic cotton so it’s 100% itch-free and cozy. Now these are some products that are so warm and wholesome that even I, a cynical Grinchypants, would want to buy for my friends and family.

Angela showed her new clothes and accessories to her fellow schoolchildren and their faces just lit up! These clothes bring out the happy, innocent youths in us all.

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PATIENCE. TRANSFORM.

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photographed by MT

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glowering with elation

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she almost cried when Angela took the bracelet back

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fashion and function all in one!!

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The wrap can be used to entertain children when necessary…

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so many uses!

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“I’m weeping with joy on the inside.”

Guest Post: Healthy Raw Raspberry Cheesecake!

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Hi! I’m Kim, a 23-year-old Biochemist from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for food, fitness, health, and overall happiness. When I am not working, working out, or spending time with friends & family, I spend time sharing my love of healthy food with others! I grew up overweight and ashamed of it. As a young teenager, I began to secretly starve myself in attempts to lose weight. This turned into a very unhealthy relationship with food that lasted over 7 years. At the age of 20, though, something “clicked” and I realized the importance of working out and HEALTHY eating. I finally succeeded in healthy weight loss by throwing myself into the kitchen (& gym!) to learn what truly healthy food is made of; I grew to really enjoy cooking & baking. Every recipe I create is sugar free, nutritious, and fit for a healthy lifestyle. I also have two recipe ebooks available that I have written, full of recipes I personally create and enjoy.
A lot of my recipes are protein-packed desserts, so this recipe is unique in the sense that it does not require protein powder, flour, or a baking step. It is a raw vegan raspberry cheesecake, made with everyday ingredients that are suitable for almost any diet preference one may have. It is comprised of a crust, a raspberry layer, a cheesecake layer, and what I call a “pink” layer; I topped the dish with a cocoa sauce and fresh raspberries. It is absolutely refreshing, while also satisfying to the sweet tooth; it can please anyone. I hope you enjoy!
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Raw Raspberry Cheesecake
 
Serves: 8
 
Crust
1/2 cup pitted dates (80 g)
3/4 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup coconut butter
Raspberry Layer
1 cup frozen raspberries
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
Cheesecake Layer
2 cups raw cashews (soaked in water)
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup maple syrup (or sugar free syrup as I use, or agave, or honey)
juice from 1/2 lemon (2 TBSP)
2 TBSP coconut butter
1 TBSP vanilla extract
You will need a food processor to make this. First, add the dates and almonds in the processor to make the crust. Process it down until it becomes fine grits, then add the coconut butter. Continue to blend it until it is malleable and thick.
Now, you have two options. You can make 3 mini 4″ cheesecakes or 1 full size cheesecake. I made mini cheesecakes with 4″ springform pans, but this is also a recipe fitting for 1 full-sized springform pan. Spread your crust on the base of the springform, pressing down firmly with the backside of a spoon or knife.
Next, make your raspberry layer by blending frozen raspberries and water. It will be thick like a sorbet. Spread this evenly on top of your crust, (saving approx 1/4 of it for later)! Place the 1/2 cup fresh raspberries on this layer as well.
Next, make the cheesecake layer. You want to strain your soaked cashews first. Then add the remaining ingredients to the food processor and blend it all. I often stop the processor to scrape down the edges, and blend more. Pour this layer on top of your raspberry layer (saving approx 1/4 of it for later)!
Now, place your cheesecake in the freezer! While that’s freezing, combine the remaining 1/4 of both the raspberry and cheesecake layers that you saved earlier. After the cheesecake has frozen for 45-60 minutes, pour the “pink” layer on top! Freeze again for at least 2-3 hours. It is best if you go ahead and let it freeze overnight. Once ready, slice into 8 servings and let it thaw approximately 10 minutes before serving. I also added a cocoa layer on top right before serving, made from unsweetened cocoa powder, water, and stevia. Enjoy!
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Nutritional Information for 1 slice: 357 calories; 27 g fat, 27 g carbs (6 g fiber), and 8 g protein

Looking for more?

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

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I knew that this day would come — it always does — but I’m never prepared for it.  I am almost done with packing but feel as if I’d forgotten to take something very important.  It never gets easier — leaving home.  But a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. 

As the jury president of 51st Golden Horse Award in Taipei, I will be seeing four to five films a day in the next two weeks.  This is arguably the most prestigious award for Chinese language films around the world.  And it is a great opportunity for me to see the best Chinese films of the year on the big screen.

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My directorial debut, Xiu Xiu The Sent-down Girl, won 7 Golden Horse Award including Best Picture. Jacky and I were presenting Best Director Award and I ended up giving it to myself.

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With my good friend Yan Geling, winning the Best Adapted Script Award. Angela was just one month old when this happened.

As I spent this glorious Saturday with my family, I already felt nostalgic for the most mundane activities such as breakfast, a walk to Safeway, or walking to dinner on Chestnut Street.  What I can say?  As the song goes, “I left my heart in San Francisco.”

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For those who have been reading my blog, I may not be able to cook and blog for a while, but I hope to update my life, my thoughts, my encounters with people and food from time to time when I’m in Taipei. Angela will also be posting periodically and we will perhaps have some great guest bloggers. Believe me, I can’t wait to get back to my kitchen and to share with you my experiments and occasional triumphs in making healthy and yummy food for my family.

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The loveliness of Paris seems somehow sadly gay
The glory that was Rome is of another day
I’ve been terribly alone and forgotten in Manhattan
I’m going home to my city by the Bay

I left my heart in San Francisco
High on a hill, it calls to me
To be where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars
The morning fog may chill the air, I don’t care

My love waits there in San Francisco
Above the blue and windy sea
When I come home to you, San Francisco
Your golden sun will shine for me

Angela & Audrey 2

3 Easy Ways to Stay Hydrated

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Did you know that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated? That’s right, you are probably dehydrated right now as you read this. Chronic dehydration can negatively impact your electrolyte balance and cognitive performance, and it can also contribute to acid reflux, digestive disorders, and other unpleasant conditions. Drink up, everyone! Here are three easy ways to stay hydrated.

1. Set a Goal

How much water should you be drinking? Well, it really depends on the water content of your food and tons of other factors. Even though we don’t all need eight glasses of water per day, I aim for that amount just in case. Besides, staying hydrated actually prevents your body from holding onto water weight and looking bloated, so drinking water has lots of benefits.

I just make a conscious effort every day to get my water in. If you’re into newfangled technology, there are lots of smartphone apps to help you drink more water, like WaterLogged and iDrated.

2. Get a Pretty Water Vessel

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I used to carry around an old metal water bottle, but I realized I wasn’t drinking much water because it made everything taste metallic and smelled reminiscent of tetanus. Also, an opaque water bottle makes it harder for you to keep track of how much you’re drinking.

This is why I really love my EcoJarz! We recently received a few EcoJarz lids and straws in the mail and couldn’t wait to test ’em out! Basically, EcoJarz lets you turn your Mason jars into really cute reusable water bottles. As you could probably guess from the name, EcoJarz are eco friendly, but the main reason why I love them is because I can keep track of how much water I’m drinking and I can sip everything through a cute reusable straw. I love straws. They’re just fun. And whenever I have lip balm or lipstick on, I love how I don’t end up getting it all over the place when I use straws. I’m rambling. But that’s how much I love EcoJarz.

3. Flavorful Infusions

In a last-ditch attempt to get Audrey to drink more water (she’d been averaging about three cups of fluid per day… yikes!) I started buying super-sweet water flavoring like Dasani Drops and Mio. Even though they helped her stay hydrated, I couldn’t help but wonder about the effect of the iffy ingredients in water flavoring. After all, we all heard about that recent study linking aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose (Equal, Sweet N Low, and Splenda, respectively) to diabetes, obesity, and other metabolic disorders. Apparently these sweeteners might negatively affect our intestinal microbiota, the enigmatic little bacterial critters living in our guts, thus contributing to various diseases. Of course, this doesn’t mean definitively that a little Diet Coke will automatically make you diabetic, but I still don’t like the idea of exposing my children to too much of this stuff.

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I’ve replaced Audrey’s very berry Crystal Light with real berries and slices of lemon. Sure, it’s not as sickly sweet as the stuff that used to go in her water, but that’s a good thing. It keeps her taste buds from getting too used to ultra-sweet stuff while providing just enough flavor to keep her interested. The best of both worlds.

A Day of No Cooking!

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A day of no cooking!  Nonfat Fage and fruits for breakfast, leftovers for lunch and takeout for dinner!  Peter and I went hiking on Crissy Field before the girls got up.  It made me think that this is how I should be every morning — to eat yogurt and to take a brisk walk along the bay. 

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Since we had to leave the house at 5 to go to the Castro Theater, we ordered Chinese takeout from this hole-in-the-wall place called Green Island.  Cheap and yummy comfort food, the kind that I love.  They have a three dish special that is $21 and we ordered rock cod with black bean sauce, salted fish with chicken and eggplants clay pot, beef and string beans in oyster sauce.

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I told the girls that when they grow up and serve their husbands cheap Chinese takeout, they should dress up, take out the linen napkins, uncork a bottle of champagne or drink water in fine crystal goblets… That’s the only way to eat cheap Chinese takeout. 

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The screening of The Last Emperor 3D was an emotional experience for me. I teared up with the first note of music. Everything felt so vivid that I could almost reach out and touch the young self I had left far behind.  That splendid and miserable youth of 28 years ago.  Sitting in the audience holding hands with my daughters, I relived the six months I spent making the film.  Six month on location would be unthinkable today.  I would be needed at home.  And I would need my home.  But back then I had no one in particular to rush home to and being on location was exactly where I wanted to be.  I thought of all the talented people, the best in their own fields, who had worked on the film.  Quite a number of them have since passed.  I sensed their spirit in the lightwaves and particles.

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With Bernardo, Jeremy Thomas, Vivian Wu

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With Ryûichi Sakamoto

Three recipes for healthy homemade ice cream!

I remember acquiring a Krups ice cream maker about fifteen years ago. I made one batch of mango sorbet and then the machine laid forgotten in my pantry until recently. My daughter Angela was ecstatic as she had hoped for an ice cream machine for months and it turned out that we had one at home this entire time. Lately we’ve been using the ice cream machine a lot and we love it; unlike a lot of machines, you don’t need any ice or rock salt!

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Angela used to make her own ice cream the slow way. She would combine 8 oz of plain nonfat Fage with a scoop of Cellucor whey and a few grams of stevia/erythritol blend, freeze it for 90 min, mix, and then freeze for another 90 min. That’s right, three hours for a bowl of hard, lumpy ice cream. Audrey tried freezing for about five hours and mixing every half hour, resulting in creamier ice cream, but it was even more time consuming this way. But now? Hallelujah, we can go from zero to ice cream in twenty minutes flat. Here are our favorite recipes!

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Vanilla ice cream topped with 100% dark chocolate bits, toasted walnuts and raspberries

1. Vanilla, of course

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • 16 oz. (454 g) plain nonfat Greek yogurt, I used Fage brand
  • vanilla extract to taste, I used about 1 tsp
  • 7 tbsp xylitol, more or less to taste
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp guar gum (optional)
  • 1/4 cup sugar-free maple-esque syrup for topping, I used Joseph’s brand made with maltitol (optional)

You can easily halve this recipe if needed. If you want, you can add a scoop or two of protein powder, but since this is made out of Greek yogurt there’s already a lot of protein. Xanthan and guar gum aren’t the most common ingredients, but they are easily available on Amazon and they make the ice cream a lot smoother and creamier. It might seem expensive at first but you never really use more than 1 tsp at a time so it’s definitely worth it! Also, you can use guar gum and/or xanthan gum to make almond flour or coconut flour breads and cookies stick together better, so there’s another benefit.

Audrey eats ice cream with a smile

2. Chocolate Chocolate Chips

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • 2 cups plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon 100% dark chocolate bits (unsweetened)
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably “natural” as opposed to Dutch-processed – more antioxidants retained this way)
  • 7 tbsp xylitol (or 11 packets stevia), more or less to taste
  • 2 tbsp PB2 powder (optional, for chocolate-peanut butter twist)
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp guar gum (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum (optional)

3. Coconut Mango

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1 cups plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mango
  • coconut extract to taste
  • 7 tbsp xylitol (or 11 packets stevia), more or less to taste
  • 1/4 tsp guar gum (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum (optional)
  • unsweetened coconut shreds for topping, to taste

The delicious and healthy ice cream from these recipes don’t stay in Freezer well.  Don’t let it stay in the freezer for longer than an hour.  It’s most delicious right after it’s made.

PS: The ice cream stays in the freezer better when I change the healthy almond milk to 2% evaporated milk, but of course it is less healthy.