Meaty Monday: Rosemany Pork Chops with King Oyster Mushrooms

This little piggy went to market… and never came back, because it was eaten. Oink oink no more.

¯\_()_/¯

C’est la vie.

IMG_0081

I’m not good at the whole “c’est la vie” thing. I can’t just  ¯\_()_/¯ and move on. Some of my friends can stay upset about something for about two seconds and then forget about it, but I am still haunted by that awful essay I wrote in fourth grade.

I do enjoy using the  ¯\_()_/¯ emoticon though. It allows me to exude an aura of nonchalance when in reality I am ranting and raving and collapsing in a pool of lactic acid and cortisol.

7-king-oyster-5-main

Anyway… pork.  Mother is busy preparing for a speech she will deliver at Harvard next week, and she’s asked me to write the post for today’s dish.  What can I tell you about these pork chops? Father loved them.  I didn’t eat any because I’m a vegetarian.  I would have eaten the mushrooms if only they didn’t touch the pork. Oyster mushrooms are pretty darn good for you though.

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 10.19.55 PM

As you can see, they are not very energy dense, which is good in an increasingly obese world. They also have a good amount of potassium, fiber, and iron. Okay.

IMG_0076

Ingredients for Basic Pork Brine:
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup sugar
4 cup water
A few dashes of pepper, rosemary, thyme and sage.
You can half or double the brine based on the number of chops you cook.
Brining Preparation:
Melt the salt and sugar in warm water, add all spices and leave the brine in the fridge until it is completely cold.  Pour the brine in a large ziplock bag and add the pork chops in.  Seal the bag and leave in the fridge for 4 to 6 hours.
If you decide to leave the pork in the brine overnight, be sure to soak it in fresh water for at least 30 minutes before using.  If you cook the brined pork on the same day, just rinse the pork well and pat dry before cooking.
Ingredients for Rosemary Pork Chop with King Oyster Mushrooms:
2 boneless pork chops
8 king oyster mushrooms, sliced lengthwise
2 shallots, sliced
2 stocks rosemary
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Preparation:
Heat oil in a large skillet pan on high, add the chops in the center and spread the rosemary stocks, mushrooms and shallots around them.  Close the lid and cook each side of the pork for about 4 minutes.  Open the lid now and then to stir the mushroom and shallots so they don’t get burned.  The chops will be cooked in the natural moisture of the mushroom and shallots.

Sautéed Kale with Whole Wheat Penne + Pastel Mint Boutique Review!

P1030033

You’ve already rolled your eyes as I waxed poetic about the beauty and grace incarnate that is pasta. Pasta is love, pasta is life, and I hope to one day marry pasta in a small courthouse ceremony with a ring of rigatoni around my finger. Disclaimer: this post was written while coming off a pasta high, in case you couldn’t notice. Forgive my incoherency.

Today we made some 100% whole wheat penne with kale. My mother called it a little naughty and a little nice. She was wrong. Pasta is nice too. A little pasta never hurt nobody. No food in itself can cause diabetes or obesity. But if you’re a little carbophobic you can alter the ratio of pasta to kale or substitute some or all of the pasta with spiralized vegetables, spaghetti squash or shirataki. Personally I find the latter absolutely disgusting and reminiscent of vulcanized worms. Shirataki is made out of an indigestible Japanese root called konjac, so it has zero grams of net carbohydrates and is essentially non-nutritive, although it is a relatively good source of fiber. Do what you want to do. Eat your rubber noodles and be sad.

P1030032

Or join the Cult of Carbs and live your life in joy. Your call.

Anyway, this recipe is vegetarian and full of delicious veggies so it’s perfect for Meatless Mondays. It can also be gluten free if you use the subs listed above or use gluten free pasta.

Ingredients:

2 bunches lacinato kale, stemmed
4 oz. (about 1 cup) uncooked 100% whole wheat penne
1/4 cup red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 of a 15 oz. can of white beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon shaved parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons pesto sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice from 1/2 large lemon
Salt & pepper to taste

P1030031

 

Preparation:

Cook the pasta according to package instructions and set aside.

Heat the oil in a pan or wok on medium high. Add the garlic and stir until aromatic. Add the kale and bell pepper and sauté until soft, adding a little water or broth if necessary. Add the beans and give it a few good stir until heated through.

Turn off the stove and add 1/4 cup parmesan, 2 tablespoons pesto sauce, the juice from half a lemon, salt and pepper to taste, mix well.

Dish out and sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon parmesan. Serve immediately.

P1030035

I hope you enjoy this recipe! Don’t pigeonhole it into the internet’s list of nasty kale recipes. Honestly I think a lot of people hate kale but pretend to like it since it’s so trendy and has a superfood rep (although the CDC’s Preventing Chronic Disease journal rated vegetables by nutrient density and kale was only #15, probably because it’s more than twice as energy-dense as spinach by mass). A lot of the kale available at supermarkets is really tough and disgusting and inedible especially if you try to make your own raw kale salad. We chose to use kale for this recipe since kale doesn’t cook down as much as spinach so it’s a better foil to the penne. If you hate kale then you can sub some other vegetable, perhaps collard greens, but we recommend trying fresh kale to see how you like it. Some farmers market kale is god-awful but if it’s really fresh then it’s 10/10.

It was shaped like a barn but it was actually quite nice inside.

It was shaped like a barn but it was actually quite nice inside.

Since returning to San Francisco from New England I’ve gotten to appreciate the city more. The autumn isn’t as pleasantly pilgrim-y and I no longer live in a quaint little cottage but at least it isn’t freezing or overrun by squirrels. Also, it’s very hipsterish which a lot of people hate but now I don’t have to turn to Netflix to watch Portlandia. A large hipster population makes for bigger and better artisanal-feeling grocery stores that are even more hardcore than Whole Foods. I’m talking Rainbow Grocery level hipster. For me, there’s nothing more fun than wandering the aisles of a grocery store, even if I don’t end up buying anything. In the dead of winter I used to trek three miles through the ice and snow to ogle at everything in Whole Foods and Stop and Shop, often returning to my dorm empty-handed. I’m starting to realize that that’s kind of weird, but whatever.

I really like cauliflower, ok?

Totally content with my weirdness. I really like cauliflower, ok?

I once dedicated an hour of my life to choosing the best aubergines from the grocery store. Yes, aubergines.

I once dedicated an hour of my life to choosing the best aubergines from the grocery store. Yes, aubergines.

In addition to the cool grocery stores, there are a lot of hipster boutiques and it’s 100% socially acceptable to dress like a hipster in any situation. I don’t really dress like a hipster when I’m not trick-or-treating but many of my friends and family members do pull off the Harry Potter glasses and flannel shirts quite well. It’s great that they have so many options when it comes to buying nice clothes. Pastel Mint Boutique, an online clothing store based in San Francisco, recently sent us a few items to try out and they were great! We received a utility jacket, an infinity scarf, a sundress, and a beanie. My sister and my schoolmates very much enjoyed trying these clothes on. We highly recommend this boutique! If anyone asks, we heard of ‘em first.

P1020988

Pastel Mint utility jacket and dress

IMG_6402.JPG

GLee rocking the infinity scarf, beanie, and utility jacket

P1020979

P1020987

IMG_6426.JPG

Glower sold separately

Glower sold separately

Gluten-Free Potato Bread + Some Improv

P1040699

Remember that gluten-free paleo zucchini bread recipe we made a few weeks ago? Well today we made a delicious variation based on which ingredients we had on hand. Instead of using zucchini, we used potato. The recipe is still gluten free, although according to most sources it isn’t paleo because of the white potato (which I’ve never understood – sweet potatoes aren’t actually better than white potatoes, guys!) but if that’s a problem for you then you can always substitute some other tuber that “Dr.” Mercola gives the stamp of approval (check Wikipedia guys!).

potato-sweet-potato-A

potato-sweet-potato-B

See? Prevention magazine approves… not the best source of information out there, but I just want to justify my potato obsession

Alright, getting to the point – here is our potato bread recipe! 10/10 would eat again.

Potato Bread

1 medium-sized potato

1/2 teaspoon salt

1+1/2 cups almond flour

1+1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 tsp cumin

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon guar gum

3 large eggs

2 tablespoons milk of choice

1 purple shallot

1 sprig rosemary

2 sprigs thyme – fresh stems removed and leaves minced

sun-dried tomatoes to taste, I used 1/4 cup

Pre-heat oven at 350

Saute sliced shallot, chopped rosemary and thyme with potato (shredded or spiralized and drained)

Mix all ingredients and bake for about 30 to 40 minutes.

P1040694

unffff

And now for the improv.

It’s so hard to write recipes for Chinese food because Chinese people don’t use recipes. It’s all by feel… a cup of oil here, a handful of monosodium glutamate there, whatever tastes good goes. The same principle of creativity that can make Chinese food heart attack fodder also allows you to make it delicious and healthy.

P1040703

P1040674

This here is some kind of Chinese gourd. It’s easy to make stir fry healthier just by omitting the cornstarch and using small amounts of oil (two to three teaspoons, which is quite small relative to most stir fry). You can also use cooking spray if you want – just remember that it isn’t really “zero” calories so it’s not a good idea to use the whole bottle in one go!

P1040683

beautiful bok choi

The good thing about Chinese food is that there’s a big emphasis on veggies, which are obviously healthy when they aren’t drenched in grease.

P1040677

Yeah that’s it. I just had some extra photos so I tacked them onto the potato bread post. I took the PSAT today so I’m tired, ok?

Jack’s Magic Beanstalk: Can We Trust Food Labels?

Because I am a nerd, all I wanted for my birthday was to go to Rainbow Grocery for the first time and pick out weird foods. I ended up buying low-carb bread from Julian’s Bakery (tasted like portobello mushrooms, and not in a good way), sprouted 100% whole grain corn tortillas from the Ezekiel/Food for Life brand (very inconsistent in terms of size and texture – bad quality control?), and (supposedly) high-protein low-carb pasta from Explore Asian.

julian-bakery

No. Just no. Do not buy this “bread.”

While I liked that the only ingredients were 100% whole grain sprouted corn with a tiny bit of salt and lime, these seemed sloppily produced.

While I liked that the only ingredients were 100% whole grain sprouted corn with a tiny bit of salt and lime, these seemed sloppily produced.

single ingredient, high-protein and low-carb pasta? seems too good to be true...

single ingredient, high-protein and low-carb pasta? seems too good to be true…

As a vegetarian, it’s really important for me to get enough protein. A lot of vegetarians become “starchatarians,” subsisting mainly on grains and starchy vegetables. That’s why I was so interested in Explore Asian pasta – it claims to have only 5 g net carbs and 25 g protein. Wow!

black-bean-pasta-nutrition

Calories are approximately the same as in regular whole wheat pasta, maybe slightly lower. But look – only 17 g total – 12 g fiber = 5 g net carbs?! And 25 g protein??

I cooked the pasta and had it with some Francesco Rinaldi no-salt-added, high-potassium pasta sauce. It was actually very good and not noticeably different from normal whole-grain pasta in terms of texture. When eaten plain, there was a slight bean taste, but it was not very noticeable.

However, when I looked at the ingredient list, I was rather skeptical of the nutrition claims. The only two ingredients in each pasta were the legume (soy or black bean) and water. While it is great that the pasta has a short and simple ingredient list, it casts into doubt the supposed nutrition information.

I sent the company an email saying that “black beans have a fat:net carb (total carbs minus fiber):protein ratio of 1:47:21, but the black bean pasta has a fat:net carb:protein ratio of 2:5:25” and asking how this was possible given that the only source of macronutrients in the pasta was the legume.

This was Explore Asian’s response:

“There are many varieties of black beans and the protein and fiber content also differs from one variety to the other by the soil type, amount of sunlight vs darkness it receives and of course amount of organic compost and rainfall!! [sic] All these parameters contribute to different ratios of total carbs (carbs+fiber) to protein. The range is 1.1 to 1.5 for our product. The nutritional panel has been derived from 2 lab testing both and is accurate. [sic, sic, and sic] Enjoy the taste of pasta with the benefits of the beans!”

umm... whatever you say, bean wizards.

umm… whatever you say, bean wizards.

Um… where to start? Yes, it’s true that there are different varieties of black beans and that their nutrient contents can vary. But come on, there is no way they vary this much. A total carb to protein ratio of 1.1 to 1.5?! If the average total carb:protein ratio in black beans is about 3:1, how does this make sense? Are we still talking about black beans here?

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 8.28.29 PM

Nutrition info for 100 g of dried black beans – just Google “black beans” and you’ll see it on the side bar on the right.

Maybe Jack’s magic beanstalk can produce beans that have well over 300% more protein than they’re supposed to, but I doubt Explore Asian has access to those kinds of resources. A more plausible explanation would be that the nutrition panel is just wrong. If this is the case, what does it imply? Perhaps the ingredient list isn’t right either and the pasta actually contains wheat – how will be company react if someone with celiac disease eats their purportedly gluten-free pasta and experiences an adverse reaction?

I wish I had a laboratory to see what’s really going on here, but I don’t, so I’ll have to leave it at this: the nutrition panel and/or ingredient list is completely and totally… bollocks. Don’t let these food companies trick you! Honestly, I’m sure we’d all be shocked to find out how much information on our food labels is inaccurate or just made up.