Cilantro Lime Prawns

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My friend Betty, who loved my Healthy Cherry Garcia Ice Cream Pie, just emailed me a photo of the Xylitol that she bought from Amazon.  The email read, “Am so excited. I wonder if this means I will start cooking??!!!”  I love it when I can get my friends to cook and share their results with me.  It’s funny how people unabashedly share so many photos of their food everywhere. Food porn is definitely an undeniable part of mainstream American culture that all ethnic groups participate in – from all the food channels to blogs to Facebook sharing to Instagram to text messages etc. etc. – nowadays even eating alone can be a social event.  Food has been bringing people together for centuries; now virtual food is bringing people together in a different way.

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So here it is:  Cilantro Lime Prawns

This flavorful dish goes well with yesterday’s corn salad, or the corn chowder that I have shared in February.  I can’t wait to cook the chowder again with fresh corn.

Ingredients:

1 pounds peeled and deveined prawns or jumbo shrimp

1/4 teaspoon teaspoon ground cumin

Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

5 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tablespoons lime juice (from 1 medium lime)

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

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Preparation:

Season the shrimp with cumin, and salt and pepper to taste.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to the pan, then shrimp. Cook them undisturbed for about 2 minutes. Turn the shrimp over and cook until opaque throughout, about 1 minute.

Add crushed garlic and stir for 30 seconds, and then add the 1/4 chopped the cilantro and stir for another 30 seconds.

Squeeze the lime juice over all the shrimp. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

Cook in batches if you want to double the recipe.

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Adapted from Skinnytaste.com

Against All Grain

I am traveling this weekend and regrettably will not be in my kitchen, but I want to share with you the wonderful dishes from my guest blogger, New York Times Bestseller cookbook author Danielle Walker, who overcame debilitating disease through healthful eating.  I found her story and her cookbooks inspirational and hope that you will enjoy these recipes.

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Hello Hungry Empress readers! I hope you enjoy my new recipe collection. Each recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free and Paleo-friendly.

Eating a nutritious diet focused on meals and snacks prepared at home doesn’t have to be intimidating. While it does take a little extra work to prepare things from scratch, I think you’ll find that you’ll not only enjoy the food, but also the process.

I’ve included a few of my favorite tips for easing nutritious eating and cooking into your regimen—if you haven’t already!

·         Planning meals and cooking ahead is key to keeping up a good habit, like eating and snacking healthfully

·         Never waste fresh produce, repurpose it! For example, if you start to notice your bananas ripening and you are not ready to enjoy them, simply peel and throw them in a plastic bag and place in the freezer

·         Use Mason jars for portable and compact lunches

Feel free to stop by my blog Against All Grain for more tips, recipes and information about my cookbooks.

Enjoy! Danielle

The new recipes include:

·         Chocolate Almond Cherry Power Cookies

·         Almond Matcha Superfood Smoothie

·         Thai Shrimp Salad with Spicy Almond Dressing

·         Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken with Chopped Almonds, Apricots and Cauliflower Couscous

·         Layered Chia & Almond Pudding Parfait

Danielle Walker's Chocolate Almond Cherry Power Cookie

Chocolate Almond Cherry Power Cookies

Yields 16 cookies

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons ground chia seeds

1/2 cup unsalted natural almond butter, unsweetened

1/2 cup ground flaxseed

1/2 cup arrowroot powder

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup unsweetened dried cherries, chopped

1/4 cup dark chocolate pieces (80% cacao)

1/4 cup sliced almonds

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together 1/2 cup hot water and ground chia seeds and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes to thicken.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the almond butter, flaxseed, arrowroot, applesauce, maple syrup, cinnamon, lemon juice, nutmeg, ginger and sea salt. Mix on medium speed to combine fully.

Add the thickened chia mixture to the bowl with the baking soda and beat again until fully combined. Stir in the cherries and chocolate pieces.

Using a cookie scoop or a large spoon, drop dough onto the lined baking sheets. Wet fingers slightly with warm water and gently press the mounds down to flatten slightly. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with sliced almonds.

Bake for 15 minutes, until golden brown around the edges and the almonds are lightly toasted. Cool on a wire rack completely before serving.

Danielle Walker's Almond Matcha Superfood Smoothie

Almond Matcha Superfood Smoothie

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk

1 cup baby kale, packed

3/4 cup frozen pineapple

1/2 cup frozen mango pieces

1 medium frozen banana

2 tablespoons unsalted natural almond butter, unsweetened

1 tablespoon matcha green tea powder

2 teaspoons chia seeds

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender. Blend on high until smooth. Serve immediately.

Danielle Walker's Thai Shrimp Salad with Spicy Almond Butter Dressing

Thai Shrimp Salad with Spicy Almond Dressing

Serves 6

Ingredients:

For the Spicy Almonds

1/2 cup whole natural almonds

3/4 teaspoon maple syrup

1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon coconut aminos

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1/8 teaspoon paprika

For the Dressing

2 tablespoons unsalted natural almond butter, unsweetened

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

1 tablespoon lime juice

2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the Salad

1 pound wild shrimp, tails removed, peeled and deveined

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt and pepper

1 cup mung bean sprouts

1 cup carrots, julienned

1 cup red cabbage, shredded

1 cup cucumber, julienned

4 cups arugula

4 cups mixed baby greens

1/4 cup fresh chopped basil

1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro

1/2 cup dressing

1/2 cup spicy almonds, chopped

Directions:

To make the spicy almonds: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Toss all of the ingredients together in a bowl, then spread the almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and drizzle with any remaining sauce. Bake for 10 minutes, turning once halfway through. Cool completely, then roughly chop.

Meanwhile, make the dressing: Place all of the ingredients in a blender except for the olive oil. Blend until smooth. With the blender running, slowly drizzle the olive oil into the blender in a steady stream. Add one tablespoon of water, to help keep the dressing liquid when refrigerated.

To assemble the salads: Toss the shrimp in the olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Heat a grill pan or skillet to medium-high heat and cook the shrimp for two minutes on each side, until pink throughout. Set aside to cool.

Divide the dressing between six 24-ounce Mason jars or bowls. Divide and layer the remaining salad ingredients in the four jars or bowls in the order they are listed, with the lettuce and shrimp at the top. Leave 1 inch of space at the top of the jar.

Garnish each with about 1 tablespoon chopped spicy almonds, cover and refrigerate until ready to enjoy. When ready to enjoy, shake the jar vigorously to mix the ingredients and dressing.

Danielle Walker's Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken with Chopped Almonds, Apr...

Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken with Chopped Almonds, Apricots and Cauliflower Couscous

Serves 6

Ingredients:

For the Chicken

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, skins removed

Salt and pepper (to initially season the chicken)

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper

1/2 cup unsalted chicken stock

1/4 cup unsalted natural almond butter, unsweetened

6 ounces unsweetened dried apricots

1 pound baby carrots

For the Cauliflower Couscous

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 cup yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper

2 tablespoons unsweetened dried cherries

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Zest of 1 lemon

For the Garnish

1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1/4 cup fresh cilantro

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper then add half of the chicken to the pot. Cook for 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Transfer the chicken to a slow cooker and repeat with remaining chicken.

Return the pot to the stove and add onion and garlic and sauté for three minutes or until tender. Add the ginger, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper and sauté for 30 seconds or until fragrant.

Stir in chicken stock and almond butter, scraping pot to loosen any browned bits. Pour contents of pot over chicken into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for five hours.

Add the apricots and baby carrots to the slow cooker, cover and cook an additional hour.

Meanwhile, prepare the cauliflower couscous. Rice cauliflower by running the florets through a food processor with a grating attachment or use a box grater to create rice-like pieces. Pick out any large fragments that didn’t get shredded and save for another use. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onions and garlic for 2 minutes, then add the cauliflower, salt and pepper. Sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender. Stir in the cherries, basil, cilantro and lemon zest.

Garnish the chicken with toasted, sliced almonds and fresh cilantro. Serve over cauliflower couscous.

Note: To toast almonds, spread them in an even layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350°F for 5 minutes.

Danielle Walker's Layered Chia & Almond Pudding Parfait

Layered Chia & Almond Pudding Parfait

Serves 6

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin powder

2 cups unsweetened almond milk

6 ounces pitted dates

1/2 cup unsweetened raw cacao powder

1/3 cup chia seeds

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 medium bananas, sliced

1/3 cup unsalted natural almond butter, unsweetened

1 cup mixed berries of choice

1/4 cup roasted almonds, chopped

Directions:

Pour 3/4 cup water into a saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over top. Turn the burner to med-high heat and whisk until the gelatin is fully dissolved. Set aside.

Combine almond milk, dates, cacao powder, chia seeds, vanilla, cinnamon and sea salt in a blender. Blend until very smooth, about two minutes. With the blender running, slowly pour in the gelatin liquid. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.

To assemble the parfaits: Divide the banana slices between six 8-ounce Mason jars or bowls. Spoon equal amounts of almond butter into the jars, then top with equal amounts of the chilled pudding. Top with berries and almonds and serve immediately or refrigerate covered for up to three days.

Beet Salad with Avocado and Grapefruit

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When Audrey visited me on the set of Marco Polo in Malaysia last year, she often rehearsed dialogue with Benny, the actor who played Kublai Khan.  Audrey would read all the other characters to help Benny memorize his lines. Did the acting bug bite her then?  I was surprised when Audrey expressed her interest in acting this week and sent in an audition tape to a young director who is shooting a short film in April.  I told her that she can do it if the shooting happens during spring break.  I have never wanted to involve my children in acting.  The profession can be a treacherous one because hard work doesn’t correlates with success.  There is too much uncertainty and not enough security in this business.  But I guess it’s no use telling her how acting is a bad profession when I do it myself.  I have long learned that you can’t teach your children by telling them things.  What you teach is what you are. 

We will find out in a few days if Audrey will do her debut role in Las Vegas during spring break.  Should I keep my fingers crossed for her?

If there is “beauty sleep,” is there beauty food?  I think the salad I made for dinner comes close to “beauty food” if there ever is one. 

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Beet Salad with Avocado and Grapefruit

Ingredients:

3 small cooked beets

1 avocado

1 large pink grapefruit

Salt and Pepper to taste

This simple salad is it’s own dressing.  With the oil in the avocado and the citrusy juice from the grapefruit, all you need is a little salt and pepper if anything.  I used organic cooked beets from Love Beets.  It took me less than 10 minutes to make this delicious and satisfying salad.  Give it a vigorous toss before serving to mix the flavors of the three ingredients.

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Thai Lemongrass Chicken

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Tonight’s post will be short and sweet like me because I am going to bed early.  As the matter of fact, everyone in the family is gong to bed early tonight.  Tomorrow, Angela has SAT, Audrey has karate belt review and piano recital and I will attend the 1990 Institute Youth Voices On China Award Ceremony.  Peter will be doing paperwork in between driving everyone around like a chauffeur.

This Thai lemongrass chicken is one of my favorite chicken stir fries.  The flavor is full yet subtle.  The lemongrass gives it a distinct fragrance that balances the mild spiciness and sweetness. 

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Thai Lemongrass Chicken

Ingredients:

1 tablespoons fish sauce

1/4 cornstarch

1 teaspoon Asian cooking wine

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon yellow curry paste (Mae Ploy Brand)

1 1/2 teaspoon xylitol or brown sugar

8 oz chicken breast, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces

1 1/2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil

1 fresh lemongrass stalks, tender inner white bulbs only, minced

1 jalapeno, sliced

1 large shallot, thinly sliced

2 dried red chili peppers

1 teaspoon lime juice

1 tablespoon chicken broth or water

1 scallion for garnishing

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Preparation:

In a bowl, combine the first 6 ingredients: fish sauce, wine, corn starch, garlic, curry paste, and the sugar. Marinate the chicken meat in the mixture for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Heat a wok over high heat. Add the oil and heat until shimmering. Add the lemongrass, shallot, jalapeño and chilies and stir-fry until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the chicken and stir-fry until the chicken pieces turn opaque.  Add lime juice, and the broth and stir for another minute. Transfer to a bowl and top with the scallion. Serve with steamed rice.

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A Simple and Yummy Spring Stir Fry

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Whenever I am pressed for time, I turn to stir fry.  Not only is it something that I have been doing since childhood and therefore second nature, but also it is a way of cooking that is, in my opinion, good for almost any food.  A quick stir fry enhances the flavor without compromising the nutritional value of the vegetables, and it never over cooks the meats.

A friend who seldom cooks texted me today to let me know that she was making the Chinese shredded pork that I posted yesterday.  It brought a smile to my face to know that the blog inspired a friend to try cooking. All the fancy culinary performance shows can sometimes be intimidating and  make cooking a spectators’ game. In reality it is just an activity that human kind has been doing since the use of controlled fire over a million years ago.  You don’t need to be a professional to cook.

So, let’s cook!

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Spring Stir Fry with Sugar Snap Peas and Chicken

Ingredients:

For the Marinade:

2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine

A pinch of salt

2 slices of ginger

For the sauce:

1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce

1 tbsp fresh lime juice

1/2 tsp xylitol or brown sugar

1/2 tsp pure sesame oil (optional)

1 tsp cornstarch

For the Stir Fry:

1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast, sliced

1/2 tsp corn starch

1 tbsp or more canola oil

2 tsp fresh garlic, minced

1 tsp fresh ginger, grated

1 heaping cup sugar snap peas

1/2 red or orange bell pepper, sliced

scallions for garnish

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Preparation:

Combine soy sauce, lime juice, water and cornstarch in a small bowl, mix together and set aside.

Marinate the chicken for 30 minutes to an hour.  Drain the chicken and discard the marinade. Add 1/2 tsp corn starch and mix.

Marinating meat in wine enhances the flavor, if you don’t have the time, you can skip the step.  Just salt the chicken and add 1/2 teaspoon corn starch.

Heat a large wok over high heat. When the wok is very hot, add half of the oil, then add the chicken. Stir fry, stirring occasionally until the chicken is cooked through and browned, about 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the chicken and set aside. Reduce heat to medium.

Add the remaining oil to the wok; add the garlic and ginger, stir for 20 seconds. Add the sugar snap peas and bell pepper, stirring over medium high heat until tender crisp, about 3 minutes.

Return the chicken to the wok, add the soy sauce-lime mixture, mix well and cook another 30 seconds to one minute. Serve immediately and top with fresh scallions.

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Recipe adapted from: skinnytaste.com

Hoisin Orange Pork Chops with Vegetables

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Mondays are usually busy with all kinds of errands, but I managed to read a few more chapters of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up.  I learned today that I’m never supposed to ball up my socks.  It cracked me up when the author asked “This should be a time for them to rest.  Do you really think they can get any rest like that?”  My socks are supposed to be on holiday in my drawer.  Being balled up means that they are in a state of tension.  I wondered where she was gong with this until she showed me how to fold it and store it “the right way.”  It actually made sense.  I can’t wait to un-ball all my socks tomorrow and create a sock resort for them.  I will show you a photo of my relaxed socks if it all goes well.  

I’ve never been good at the lotus position meditation, but I can imagine the methodical smoothing out and folding of the socks to be a meditative process as cooking oftentimes is for me.

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Hoisin Orange Pork Chops with Vegetables

Ingredients:

For the Marinade:

1/4 cup hoisin sauce

1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

2 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce

2 tbsp Asian cooking wine

Other Ingredients:

2 (6 oz total) 2-inch thick broccoli stems, spiralized

cooking spray

(2) 5 to 6 ounce boneless pork chop, 1” thick

2 cups broccoli florets

1 teaspoon 100% pure sesame oil

1/4 red onion, julienned

1 carrot, spiralized

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

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Preparation:

Combine the hoisin, orange juice soy sauce and wine with a whisk and reserve. Add pork chops to marinade and refrigerate for 2 hours.

While chops are marinating, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place the broccoli in a wire basket and cook for about 3 minutes at a slow boil to blanch. Remove from pot and place in ice water to stop the cooking process. Let sit in ice bath for a couple minutes until chilled.

Remove chops from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature for about 5 minutes before cooking. Remove from marinade, reserving the marinade for later. 

Heat a medium nonstick sauté pan on high heat, spray with oil when hot then place the steaks and cook 3 minutes on each side. Lower the stove to medium and cook another 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until the thermometer inserted to the center reads 140.  Transfer to a cutting board and let it sit for 5 minutes.

Add the reserved marinade to the skillet, reduce heat to medium-low, bring to a boil and simmer 2 to 3 minutes.

Place the sesame oil in a large nonstick skillet, add the onions, garlic and ginger and cook on high 1 to 2 minutes. Add the broccoli and carrot noodles, season with salt and cook 3 minutes. Add the blanched broccoli and cook until hot.

Divide the vegetables unto 2 separate plates. Place the chops on a cutting board and cut into thin strips. Lay chops on top of the vegetables, top with sauce and serve.

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Recipe adapted from:  skinnytaste.com

Nutty Fruity Scones

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Angela’s Post:

As I write this, my dad is squinting at his laptop and muttering obscenities under his breath. Apparently a certain fellow responsible for typing up medical reports is not only incapable of using proper English grammar but also gets basic facts like dates and years wrong. My father, a very busy interventional cardiologist has become a copy editor. I fear for the future of medicine. I don’t want to let some schmuck who doesn’t know the difference between January and February handle my arteries. I guess that’s another reason to eat well and stay healthy.

Today we made deliciously crumbly reduced-sin scones. There’s no butter or refined flour in them, and they’re dairy-free, paleo, and “clean” (I think? Unsure of standards regarding the sanitation of one’s diet) so make them and gobble them up right now! Feed your wife! Feed your husband! Feed your children because they’re darn good and won’t make your blood glucose levels spike uncontrollably!

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Nutty Fruity Scones

Ingredients:

2 cups almond flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup walnuts

¼ cup pecan

1 large egg

2 tablespoons honey

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Preparation:

In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt and soda.

Stir in dried fruit and nuts.

In a small bowl, combine egg and honey.

Stir wet ingredients into dry.

Use your hands to form dough.

Shape into desired shape.

(I used a little coconut flour to prevent sticking when I handled the dough.)

Bake at 350° on a parchment paper lined baking sheet for 10-12 minutes

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…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!

Carrot Ginger Soup and High Heels

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2014 has been a special year for Angela.  She turned sixteen and discovered high heels.  Today Angela walked for four hours in four-inch heels without killing herself. She’s short like me so she likes having the height. I can definitely understand that. Podiatrists may say that heels are bad for you, but sometimes the height is worth the pain. Occasionally we look at pictures of really gnarly bunions and hammer toes to try to get ourselves to kick the high heel habit but in the end we succumb to the need not to look like a little teapot, short and stout.

I look taller than Angela only because I hadn't yet begun enabling her high heel addiction.

I look taller than Angela only because I hadn’t yet begun enabling her high heel addiction.

It’s hard to give up our vices. Heels, web surfing, eating while already full… why must the things that destroy our physical, emotional, and intellectual wellbeing always be so hard to quit? 2015 is coming, and with it the annual “new year, new you!” rubbish. In truth the New Year is mostly an opportunity for gyms and pyramid schemers (cough cough, Herbalife, cough cough) to make some extra coin.

First of all, why wait until the new year to change? Second, why try to make such huge and impossible changes? Wouldn’t it be more sensible to make gradual changes to minimize misery?

Subsist on nonfat cottage cheese and romaine lettuce? Exercise vigorously for two hours a day? More like an exercise in futility. I’m not going to resign myself to sneakers and flats or abandon my bags of salted nuts and my daily dose of staring out the window. No, I’m going to eat lots of veggies…

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I should follow in Angela’s lead. It was always a struggle to make her eat meat, but not veggies!

…and here and there, a few slices of good old-fashioned high-glycemic-index bread as well.

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Trying to be healthy shouldn’t be torture. As the kids say, “you feel?”

So in the spirit of being healthy without having to suffer, let’s drink some veggie soup. I love soup. It’s warm and hearty and delicious, and even though San Francisco winters aren’t exactly cold, soup just gets me in the winter holiday mood. And most importantly (let’s be honest), it’s easy to make. You don’t have to spend forty-five minutes stirring or spend hours mincing.

Today’s carrot ginger soup was absolutely delicious. But don’t take my word for it! Try it yourself!

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Carrot Ginger Soup Ingredients:

7 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 inch ginger root, peeled and sliced
1 small potato, sliced (optional, I omitted)
2 tablespoons olive oil (can use less or omit if desired, I used the full amount)
6 cups organic chicken broth or vegetable broth
A dash of ground cumin, paprika, coriander and oregano

Preparation:

Use a soup pot, heat olive oil on high and sauté garlic, ginger and onion until aromatic, about 3 to 4 minutes. If desired, you can omit the olive oil and use cooking spray or a splash of liquid instead.
Add carrots and stir for another 3 minutes. Add spices and stir for another minute.
Add broth and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer for about 10 minutes. Let the soup cool for a few minutes before pureeing it in batches in a blender. I used my Vitamix.

 

Saturday Brunch with Artisanal Silverware

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There is something wonderful and exciting about receiving and opening packages in the mail, especially when you are not sure what exactly the boxes contain.  I was away on film locations in remote regions of China when I was only fourteen.  My mother used to send me bi-weekly care packages from Shanghai — often times my favorite snacks such as dried plums or a can of spam, which was a luxury item back then.  I can still recall those moments of excitement and anticipation when I opened up the care packages.

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On Christmas Eve, we received in the mail a beautiful set of artisanal silverware from For Such a Time Designs!  We first saw Aly Nickerson’s lovely hand-stamped spoons on SkinnyTaste.com and coveted them for months before they finally arrived, a generous gift from Aly. Each piece of the silver plated flatware is vintage and stamped with antique metal stamps. It is absolutely gorgeous and makes eating even more fun than it already is. “Serve With Love,” “Eat Clean,” my thoughts exactly!

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Smoked Salmon Scallion Omelet Ingredients:

1 Egg + 3 Egg White (beaten)

3 stalks Scallion (chopped)

3 oz. Wild Smoked Salmon (pulled or cut to small chunks)

2 tablespoon 2% Shredded Cheddar & Jack cheese

1/2 teaspoon Dill Weed

1/2 tablespoon Olive Oil

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Preparation:

Heat a flat non-stick pan on medium, add oil, then add most of the chopped scallion. 

After the scallion softens, about 40 seconds, pour in the beaten eggs.

Add salmon, the rest of the scallion and the cheese. 

Sprinkle the Dill Weed.  Roll the Omelet.  Sprinkle with fresh pepper.

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Everyone in the house loved Yam Casserole so much that I made it for the second time this week. It is a delicious and healthy dish that is relatively easy to make.

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Recipe in December 25th post “Empty Chimney Once Upon A Time”

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