Lobsters and Love Junkee

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Costco is one my favorite stores in the world.  It has everything.  A friend once said to me, “If Costco doesn’t carry it, we don’t need it.”  I probably wouldn’t go so far, but I could certainly live quite happily with what Costco offers.  Not only I buy daily staples like milk, eggs and bread, I also buy my fancy food items there.  Today, I bought 6 huge fresh lobster tails for about 40 dollars.  They are so fresh and sweet that they could be enjoyed plain.  I think I have managed to find the perfect foil to the perfect food through this salad.

Citrus Lobster Salad with Avocado and Arugula

Ingredients:

4 fresh lobster tails

4 teaspoons finely chopped shallot

2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon table salt

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 mandarin oranges (or other citrusy fruits such as orange and pink grapefruit) 

1 1/2 firm-ripe California avocado

2 oz baby arugula

Coarse sea salt to taste (optional)

Preparation:

Boil water in a large steamer.  When the water is boiling, put in the lobster tails.  Steam for 10 minutes.

When lobster is cool enough to handle, peel the shells and remove the veins on the back of the lobster.  Cut the meat into 1/2-inch-thick slices and chill lobster in covered container. 

While lobster chills, stir together shallot, lemon juice, and table salt in a small bowl and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Add oil in a stream, whisking.

Peel mandarin oranges. Halve avocado lengthwise, discarding pit and peel.  (Save 1 half, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for another use.)

Divide avocado and all of lobster meat between 4 salad plates and arrange mandarin orange slices around them. Top with arugula and drizzle with dressing. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt (if using) and serve immediately.

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After taking the pictures of my lobster salad, I turned my camera toward Audrey, who was staring at the computer screen in her newly acquired torn jeans and statement tees.  I was surprised by how mature she grew over night, on the cusp of adolescence.  We are lucky we live in the digital era when we can easily preserve in frames the fleeting moments of our children’s lives.

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Audrey’s new clothes were generously provided by Love Junkee, which was described by Angela’s friends as being “like Brandy Melville, but cooler and not overpriced.”

Recipe inspired by Epicurious

Happy Year of the Ram!

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Peter’s mother gave me two porcelain New Year dolls as part of their wedding gift to us. I thought that they looked silly when I first saw them and have grown to love them over the years.

It is rare that the whole family is free for Chinese New Year celebration.  The girls are off from school for President’s Week, and Peter took time off because originally the whole family was traveling to the East Coast this week.  Peter went to play golf and Angela went out with friends (see her account of her little adventure at the end of the post) when Audrey and I stayed at home and cooked our New Year feast.

The first must-eat food for Lunar New Year is dumplings.  Audrey and I had fun making our own 100% whole wheat dumpling wrap today.  This way we don’t feel as guilty pigging out.

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Handmade Dumpling Wraps Ingredients:

4 cups of 100% whole wheat flour

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

water

Preparation:

Pour 3 1/3 cups of flour and eggs in a large mixing bowl and leave it in the sink.  Turn on tap to have a steady drip while using your hand to mix – swirl in one direction – until the dough is firm but can be kneaded.  Turn off tap.  Knead the dough for 5 minutes.  Let it sit for 15 minutes.

In batches, roll the dough into cylinders and cut into 1/2 inch pieces.  Use the remaining dry flour to prevent pieces from sticking together.  Make little dough balls and then use a rolling pin to make the wraps.  The key is to turn the dough with one hand and roll as you turn.

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If this sounds all too labor intensive, there are always the store-bought wraps!

Check out “Chinese New Year Potstickers” for the rest of the dumpling recipe.

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The second must-eat food for Lunar New Year is fish.  Fish sounds the same with the word “abundance” in Chinese.  Usually people buy a live rock cod to steam with ginger and scallion, but I suppose every Chinese family wanted one today and they were all sold out.  I bought a beautiful piece of Chilean Sea Bass and used my favorite marinade.

I also made braised pork for nostalgic reasons.  This was a dish that I looked forward to having at every New Year’s Eve when I was growing up in Shanghai.

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Braised Pork with Fresh Bamboo Shoots and Shiitake

Ingredients:

1/2 cup cooking wine

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup dark soy sauce (or you can use all light soy sauce)

3/4 – 1 cup water (you may not use all of it)

1 1/2 to 2 pounds pork shank

4 boiled eggs

5 large dried shiitake mushrooms (soaked soft, drained and quartered)

2 winter bamboo shoots (peeled and tough part removed)

1 pack stringed tofu (from Chinese market, see photo)

1 1/2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

8 cloves garlic, crushed

2 inch cube peeled ginger, crushed or sliced

2 star anise

1 tbsp. brown sugar or molasses

1 tbsp. canola oil

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Preparation:

Heat the oil in a wok on high.

Put in peppercorns, garlic, ginger, star anise, sauté until aromatic.

Add cut pork shank to be seared at all sides.

Add bamboo, shiitake and boiled eggs.

Pour in soy sauce, wine, water and sugar and turn the fire to low.

Cover and stew for 2 hours.

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For the two vegetarians in the house, I made a seared tofu with brown rice medley.

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Seared Tofu with Brown Rice Medley

Brown Rice Medley Ingredients:

1 cup brown rice

1 teaspoon sesame oil

A pinch of salt

2 1/2 water

1/2 teaspoon dark rice vinegar

4 teaspoons canola or peanut oil

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tsp brown sugar

4 large dried shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely minced

1 cup snap peas

1/2 red pepper (thinly sliced)

1/3 cup sliced scallions, divided

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Preparation:

Soak the dry shiitake mushroom in a bowl in warm water for 1 hour.  Save 1/4 cup of the water but discard the sediment at the bottom of the bowl. 

Cook the brown rice with 2 1/2 cups water, a pinch of salt and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil.

In a sauce pan heat 2 teaspoons cooking oil on medium high, sauté half of the ginger until aromatic, add the sliced shiitake mushrooms and give it a few good stir.  Add soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and 1/4 cup reserved mushroom water.  Bring it to boil and lower the heat to let simmer.  The mushrooms are done when sauce is reduced and thickened but not burned.

In the meantime, in a wok or frying pan heat up 2 teaspoons oil on medium high and sauté the remaining ginger until aromatic.  Add snap peas and red pepper and stir for about 1 1/2 minutes.  Pour shiitake mushroom sauce and 1/3 cup of scallion in the pan and stir for 1/2 minutes. 

Mix in the cooked brown rice and turn off the stove.

Miso Tofu Ingredients:

12 oz. firm tofu, sliced

1 tablespoon miso paste

1/4 tsp red chili flakes (optional)

2 tsp canola or peanut oil

Tofu Preparation:

Spread miso paste on the tofu using fingers.  Heat the oil in a nonstick pan and pan sear the tofu on medium high for about 3 minutes on either side or until tofu slices are slightly browned.

Serve tofu on a bed of rice medley.

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Here is Angela’s little adventure:

To celebrate the eve of the Lunar New Year, my friends and I went out for lunch. We normally spend our free time in the Marina. Some may complain about all the yuppies in the area but I see nothing wrong with their presence, especially since I love the restaurants and stores that are targeted toward yuppies. They may be strange and overpriced, but they’re fun for window shopping.

Today we decided to go to the Castro and the Mission, where I normally do not venture. We went to a restaurant called Starbelly and then spent a few hours at Dolores Park, where I witnessed several people ingesting illegal substances and one woman emptying her bladder at the top of a hill. I have lived a rather sheltered childhood, so I was mildly disturbed by what I saw. I suppose it’s always important to be exposed to a diverse range of experiences. I am a very rule-abiding person so it was difficult to watch people violate open container laws and vandalize public transport vehicles without reporting them. At least Starbelly was good. I had a dried pea and quinoa patty and a gingered butternut squash soup with pepitas.

After returning from my little adventure, I came home to find a nice Lunar New Year dinner and some shipments of clothes that I’ll be reviewing in the next few days. Gung hay fat choy!

我今天跟同学们庆祝春节,我们去了卡斯特罗区吃饭。食品很好吃,但是我看到很多人在触犯法律,不好!新年快乐,恭喜发财,年年有余。我朋友姓余。去年,我得考中文AP考试,所以我得背春节传统,比方说喝腊八粥和吃橘子。对不起,我的中文不好。如果你有孩子,你应该让他考中文AP因为连我都考得好,而且AP很好玩儿,有写故事的部分,那是我最喜欢的部分。我为汤姆和玛丽亚写了很多悲惨的背景故事。

Creamy Conchiglie Pasta – Healthified!

I think we’ve established that pasta is boss. So it’s no surprise that today we made even more pasta.

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Every time we go grocery shopping, we always pass the pasta aisle and Audrey begs for the big pasta shells that are on display. They do look very enticing.  We never end up getting them because they’re made out of white flour and Audrey gets more than her fair share of refined carbs from all the candy she eats. Today we decided to buy some whole wheat conchiglie to satisfy her craving.

It was pretty hard to find conchiglie that’s whole wheat; we had to search through some pretty hippie-ish Gen Y grocery stores, which thankfully are abundant in San Francisco. If you don’t have one of those stores near you, you can substitute with another type of 100% whole wheat pasta or just use regular conchiglie. Anything in moderation, right?

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Ingredients

1 pound conchiglie or other pasta, preferably 100% whole wheat*
1 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (14-16 oz.) bag frozen green peas, thawed
1/3 cup pine nuts
2 teaspoon pepper flakes
1 pinch smoked paprika
2 cups basil leaves, roughly chopped or torn
8 ounces feta cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

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Preparation

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and sauté the garlic and 1 tablespoon of basil until aromatic, add 2/3 cup of peas and give it a few stirs. Pour the cooked peas and the yogurt in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil on medium heat in a small skillet and fry the pepper flakes, paprika and pine nuts until aromatic or the nuts slightly brown. Set aside.

Cook pasta according to direction on package. As soon as the pasta is al dente, add the remaining peas to the same pot, then immediately transfer peas and pasta to colander. Drain and shake the colander to release excess water.

Mix pasta, peas and the yogurt-pea sauce. Sprinkle with pine nuts, basil leaves and feta cheese. Serve warm.

The recipe makes six servings.

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Adapted from “Jerusalem” by Yotam Ottolenghi
The Wall Street Journal Saturday/Sunday Eating and Drinking

*Pedantic foodie rant: A lot of the pasta at grocery stores that calls itself “whole wheat” is actually made with 51% whole wheat flour and 49% refined flour (cough cough Barilla cough), if that. Food packaging is, as the kids say, hella deceptive. Take Cheerios, for example. The packaging says “Made with 100% whole grain oats,” which is true. However, Cheerios themselves aren’t technically 100% whole grain because they contain small amounts of corn starch and wheat starch.

So if you’re trying to cut refined carbs out of your diet, make sure not to be fooled by deceptive packaging! My mother always buys “made with whole grain” products that are mostly just white flour. Yes, unbleached enriched flour is regular refined white flour. Moral of the story: if you’re trying to improve your diet, check the ingredient list before you buy anything! Sure, a little white flour here and there won’t kill you, but consuming unhealthy food should be a conscious decision. Unwholesome ingredients shouldn’t be snuck into your stomach by food labels that are obviously intended to fool you. Just my two cents.

Lotus Root: the Sexiest Tuber

An anonymous internet philosopher once said, “Just like the lotus, we too have the ability to rise from the mud, bloom out of darkness, and radiate into the world.”

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Ever heard of eating your feelings? Well, today we ate the part of the lotus that never makes it out of the filth. We ate the lotus root, the part responsible for the growth and existence of the pretty flower that never gets to see the light of day until it’s cruelly uprooted and devoured. It does almost all the work and never gets much credit or appreciation. Eat a lotus root. Everyone’s got a little lotus root in them.

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Potatoes and lotus roots face off. East meets West. MMA.

And they stand their ground against sweet potatoes too!

And they stand their ground against sweet potatoes too!

According to the wise and all-knowing Google, lotus roots are better than taters. Think of ’em as the plain old potato’s sexier exotic friend with more potassium and vitamin C and fiber by mass. Lotus roots are popular in many Asian cuisines. We watched a documentary last year in AP Chinese about how lotus roots are grown; apparently they’re quite difficult to harvest since farmers have to dig out the entire root, which is several feet long. If the root breaks, it gets filled with filth and it can’t be sold. These A+ tubers are definitely worth the trouble though.

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Apologies for inundating you with lotus root pics.

So that’s Lotus Root 101.

Anyway… lotus roots can be used in both sweet and savory recipes. You can stuff them with soaked glutinous sweet rice and cook them up with dates, “dragon eyes” and xylitol (or sugar, if you’re into that) and they’re sort of dessert-y, almost like Japanese mochi in texture.

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A very Shanghainese dish

You can also sauté them and they’ll be nice and crunchy. We made ’em with noodles… I didn’t choose the carb life; the carb life chose me. Dr. Atkins can run in terror from pasta, but I’ll embrace it with a smile.

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Ingredients for Asian Peanut Noodles with Lotus Root:

For the Peanut Sauce:

14.5 oz fat free chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarian)

5 tbsp peanut butter (I used reconstituted PB2 for lower fat)

1 tbsp sriracha

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp soy sauce (use Tamari for gluten free)

1 tbsp freshly grated ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

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For the Vegetables and Noodles:

1 section of a lotus root, sliced

salt and pepper (to taste)

1 tbsp sriracha (more or less to taste)

5 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated

1 tbsp soy sauce (use Tamari for gluten free)

1/2 tbsp sesame oil

8 oz rice noodles, preferably 100% whole grain

3/4 cup green onion, chopped

1 cup shredded snow peas

1 red bell pepper, sliced

2 tbsp chopped peanuts

Preparation:

For the peanut sauce: Combine 1 cup broth, peanut butter, sriracha, honey, 2 tbsp soy sauce, ginger, and 3 cloves crushed garlic in a small saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat stirring occasionally until sauce becomes smooth and well blended, about 5-10 minutes. Set aside.

Boil water for the noodles and cook pasta according to package instructions.

Heat a large skillet or wok until hot. Add 2 cloves crushed garlic, scallions, snow peas, bell pepper, lotus root and salt, sauté until tender crisp, about 1-2 minutes.

Drain noodles and toss with peanut sauce. Separate the noodles in 6 plates and top with the sautéd vegetables and chopped peanuts. Or mix the sautéd vegetables with the noodles and top with chopped the peanuts.

The recipe makes about 6 servings.

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Spiralized Butternut Squash Pasta with Garlicky Kale & White Beans

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Pasta is good, pasta is great. Pasta is the friend who will always be there for me. Pasta, o beauteous pasta, you make any dish complete. You complete me. Non lasciarmi, mio amato (grazie, Google Translate).

I never want to spend a day without pasta, not even if I’ve already eaten my weight in starch and definitely do not need to further raise my blood sugar. This is when my beloved vegetable spiralizer comes in handy. It can turn just about any vegetable, from zucchini to broccoli stalks, into pasta. That’s right, all the deliciousness of al dente pasta and all the holiness of veggies. Now that’s what I call good wholesome fun.

Big smile at Ristorante La Fattoria in Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, Italy. There was probably some pasta involved.

Big smile at Ristorante La Fattoria in Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, Italy. Pasta!

The first time I heard of spiralizing vegetables was when I was reading about zoodles on SkinnyTaste.com. I then coveted a spiralizer for about a year before Audrey bought me one from Williams Sonoma as a gift using her own money. How sweet!  I have since made my own zoodles on several occasions. They are delicious!

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Spiralizers are very versatile. A vegetable doesn’t need to be vaguely phallic in order to be turned into pasta. Today we had a grand old time spiralizing butternut squash!

Note: if you don’t have a spiralizer, then a mandoline or even a vegetable peeler should work.

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Butternut Squash Pasta with Garlicky Kale & White Beans

Ingredients:

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and spiralized, noodles trimmed

olive oil cooking spray

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, minced

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more, if you like it really spicy)

1 bunch Lacinato kale, stems removed

salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup low sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth, if vegetarian)

1 can white beans (cannellini, Great Northern), drained, rinsed, patted dry

1 teaspoon oregano flakes

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional if vegan)

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Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the butternut squash noodles on a baking sheet and coat with cooking spray. Season with salt and pepper and bake for 10-12 minutes or until al dente. When done, divide noodles into bowls and set aside.

While the butternut squash is cooking, place a large skillet over medium heat and add in the olive oil. Once oil heats, add in the garlic, red pepper flakes and kale. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 3-5 minutes, tossing occasionally, or until kale is wilted. You can do this in batches.

Once the kale is cooked, pour the chicken broth into the skillet and add the beans and oregano. Let cook for 5-10 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half.

Remove the skillet from the heat, stir in the parmesan cheese and toss to combine. Divide the kale mixture equally over the bowls of butternut squash noodles. Serve immediately.

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Recipe modified from Inspiralized

Like Lemonade and Tofu

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Audrey sipping lemonade from her favorite EcoJarz container

Anyone who knows both Angela and Audrey will say that they are very different. Audrey is like lemonade, sweet and universally liked. Angela is more like tofu. It’s a good sensible food, one that won’t raise your blood sugar or give you cavities. But let’s just say it’s more of an acquired taste… some people think it’s boring health food, some people think it’s hippie feed, and some people love it.

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Gangnam Style dancing in public with a straight face. Like I said, an acquired taste.

Today, true to their natures, Audrey whipped up some lemonade and Angela made tofu. A lovely mix, really, with the perfect combination of sweet and savory.

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Just like my daughters.

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Angela chastised me for using white rice in this photo. Some childish prattle about high GI and causing diabetes or galactic implosion or something. It’s purely for the aesthetic, I told her after swallowing a large spoonful of the pure white pillowy starch.

Spiced Tofu with Spiralized Zucchini Ingredients:

15 oz. firm tofu (sliced)

2 small zucchinis

10 grape tomatoes

1 stalk green onion

2 cloves garlic

3 teaspoons sesame oil or any cooking oil

1 tablespoon oyster sauce (or “oyster-flavored” shiitake sauce)

1/4 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (optional)

1 dash red chili pepper flakes

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Spiced Tofu with Zoodles is a satisfying meal on its own.

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Preparation:

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a nonstick pan and sear the sliced tofu pieces on medium high until slightly golden, about 3 minutes on each side.  Sprinkle the chili pepper on the tofu while searing.  Set aside.

Spiralize your zucchini. If you don’t have a vegetable spiralizer, you can use a vegetable peeler, mandoline, or knife to get your zucchini into noodle-like strips. Use the remaining oil to lightly sauté your garlic until aromatic. Add the zucchini and and cook for 1 – 2 minutes.  Mix in grape tomatoes and the seared tofu.  Give it a few good stir.  Turn off the stove and add the oyster sauce. Stir until well coated.  Top with chopped green onion and sesame seeds.  Serve immediately with rice.

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Lemonade, crunchy ice, sip it once, sip it twice…

Sugar-Free Lemonade Ingredients:

2 cups xylitol

1 cup hot water

2 cups fresh lemon juice (we juiced our Meyer lemons just this morning!)

1 gallon cold water

1 sliced lemon

Preparation:

Dissolve xylitol in hot water. Add lemon juice and water, stirring well until thoroughly mixed. Garnish with slices of lemon.

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.

…And a Happy New Year!

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In the beginning of 2014, which feels like just moments ago, it never occurred to me that I would be cooking and blogging about my experience in the kitchen.  This seemingly whimsical idea has unexpectedly taken root in me somehow. I’m not sure what exactly is driving me to do this. Angela and I started this experiment in an attempt to make our family eat more mindfully.  But what sustains me in the daily practice is perhaps my impulse to make things, and my desire to learn things.  I have learned and am still learning how to prepare more healthful and more delicious food.  In the process I have also discovered a deep pleasure in cooking, and in looking at all the familiar edible things with the newness of a baby.

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I have always loved food, but the past two months have taught me to eat more deliberately, and to taste the flavors instead of simply pigging out.  The past two months are also wonderful because the kitchen has become not only a sanctuary for me, but also a warm place where we find joy as a family.  The children are now more involved in cooking their own food — Audrey has turned out to be quite talented in everything breakfast — smoothies, French toast and pancakes, you name it.  As a matter of fact, she is making healthy-fied blueberry pancakes for dinner as I’m writing.  And writing.  I have also been learning to better express myself in the language of my adopted country.  Words and sentences come too slowly and are never adequate enough to capture the grinding of my brain, but the practice does calm and focus my mind.

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Today I want to share with you twelve of our family’s favorite recipes from the blog.  Most of the dishes I have cooked are relatively simple and quick to make — something accomplishable on a daily basis.  I have completely done away with butter, and in most cases with simple carbohydrates.  Almost all of the breads, muffins and cookies were made of almond flour or coconut flour or both — something I hadn’t known one could do before this blog.   

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Lemon and Olive Oil Marinated Fennel Salad with Burrata and Mint

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Sugar-free Grain-free Chocolate Cookies

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Roast Pork Tenderloin with Rosemary, Thyme, Sage & Garlic

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Healthy, Quick and Easy Mushroom Risotto

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Mongolian Beef

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Healthy Raw Raspberry Cheesecake

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Minced Turkey with Basil Lettuce Cup

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Kung Pao Chicken

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Ginger Scallion Sriracha Glazed Salmon

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Yam Casserole with Crispy Top

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Almond Flour Coconut Chocolate Cookies

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Pear Lemon Zest Burrata Crostini

Thank you for reading. Have a happy 2015!

Home Sweet Home

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I got home this morning, just in time for Thanksgiving.  There was unopened mail piled up on the dining table, dishes piled up in the sink.  There was hair all over the bathroom floor.  And the piano was dusty…  But the girls and Peter were all happy and healthy.  That was all it mattered.  I can’t believe I actually was able to cook today.  What a joy!  It was a simple dish, but it’s Angela’s favorite: ratatouille.  

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Always Mommy’s little helper

Ingredients:

2 large eggplants (cubed)

2 large tomatoes (diced)

2 medium onions (chopped)

1 red sweet pepper (diced)

1 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt (optional)

1 teaspoon sugar

4 cloves garlic (minced)

1/3 cup Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

a dash of each ground cumin, paprika, coriander, oregano

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Put the cubed eggplant in a microwave-safe container and cover with a lid.  Microwave it for 12 minutes or until soft throughout.

Sauté onion and garlic on high with half of the olive oil for about 6 minutes, add sweet pepper and tomato and stir for another 6 minutes.  (I used a wok for this.) Set aside.

Use the other half of the oil and sauté the eggplant on medium for 4 to 5 minutes before mixing in the onion, pepper and tomato.  Pour in the Marinara sauce, vinegar, sugar, salt and spices, and cook at low for 20 minutes.

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As we have been doing for the past fifteen years, we went to David People’s house for Thanksgiving dinner.  The five cakes and pies were made of full fat cream, real sugar and butter and white flour.  Happy holidays, right?

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

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