Cauliflower Fried Rice

This recipe is perfect for those times you’re looking to use up your leftover vegetables and those nights you feel too damn tired to cook, but want to make something quick and healthy anyway.

Carrots, peas, and broccoli are some of my favorite vegetables to add to this dish, but even if all you have is egg and scallions, you still can make a delicious fried rice. There’s so much variety with fried rice! This recipe, of course, switches out rice for cauliflower.  It’s low-carb, surprisingly filling, and breaking up the cauliflower takes hardly anytime at all if you have a blender or food processor.

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Ingredients

(makes 3 portions)

-1 head cauliflower.

-Peas (fresh or frozen– right now is the season to buy fresh!)

-1 head broccoli, cut into small pieces

-1-2 carrots, dice by halving the carrot widthwise and cutting each half lengthwise, then chop each piece into small bites.

-2 scallions, diced. Separate the white bottoms and green tops.

-4 cloves garlic, minced

-2 eggs, whisked

-Oil (I used toasted sesame oil)

-Tamari or soy sauce to taste

-Black pepper

 

Instructions

1. Remove the leaves from the cauliflower and break apart the florets, placing them in a blender or food processor.  Pulse until it looks like rice.  Remove and place in a bowl.

Prepare the rest of the vegetables.  In a small bowl, whisk two eggs and add salt and pepper.

2. Heat a large pan over medium-high.  Add oil to the pan, carrots, broccoli, peas, the white bottoms of the scallions, and garlic.  Cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the cauliflower, black pepper and tamari/soy sauce.  Add more oil to the pan if it’s dry and continue to cook for another 4-5 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.  Turn off the heat, transfer the vegetables to a large bowl, and wipe out the pan.

3.  Reheat the pan over medium-high heat and add a tablespoon of oil.  Add the eggs to the pan and scramble.  Once the eggs are nearly cooked through, add the vegetables back to the pan to stir to combine.  Add more seasoning to taste and garnish with the green tops of the scallions.  Serve, and enjoy!

Forbidden Rice Veggie Bowl

Looking for an easy vegetarian recipe or an alternative to boring ole’ white or brown rice?  I’ve recently discovered Forbidden Rice, an exotic and somewhat pretentious name for black rice, and I highly recommend trying it.  I first had it at a Los Angeles restaurant called Flower Child.  It was so good that when I got home I immediately tried to recreate the recipe. There are a few reasons why I’m loving this rice.  Not only does it come out with a risotto-like texture, but the grains contain an extraordinary amount of anthocyanin, the powerful antioxidant responsible for giving certain foods like blueberries or eggplants their beautiful purple color (source: Modern Farmer).

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When recreating the recipe from Flower Child, I had to do a bit of guess work.  I ended up just using whatever veggies I had leftover in the fridge, but the ones used at the restaurant were broccoli, carrot, snap peas, japonica, onion, and bok choy.  I’ve never heard of or seen japonica in a store or at a farmers market, so I left that one out. Here is how I prepared this delicious meal using what I already had on hand:

Ingredients

-1 cup Forbidden Rice, soaked or rinsed thouroughly and drained
-2 cups water
-1/2 chicken bouillion cube
-1 head of broccoli, chopped
-1 zucchini, chopped inot 1/4 inch rounds
-1 carrot, julienned
-1 onion, small diced
-5 cloves of garlic, small diced
-dried chili flakes
-sesame oil
-salt, pepper
-1 tablespoon ghee or butter

 

Instructions

1- Add rinsed rice to a small pot with 2 cups water, the boullion cube and ghee (optional). *Note- I barely salt the water since the boullion contains salt.  Cook over high heat on the stove until boiling, then cover and reduce heat to low for about 20 mintues or until cooked through.  Remove from heat and leave lid on.

2- While the rice cooks, heat a medium-sized pan over medium high heat.  Add sesame to the pan.  Add the carrots and broccoli first.  Season lightly with salt and pepper and cook for about five minutes or until slightly soft.  Next, add the zucchini, onion, and garlic.  Lightly season again with salt and pepper and add the chili flakes. Add more sesame oil if necessary.  Cook about 5-6 minutes, or until everything is softened.  Turn heat to low.

3- Add the cooked rice to the pan of vegetables and toss to thoroughly combine everything.  Serve and enjoy this healthy meal!

 

Chinese Green Beans With Pork

San Francisco is a city rich in culture and diversity, which is one of the greatest reasons why I’m obsessed with this city. Because I grew up in a densely Asian-populated neighborhood, my comfort foods have always been any kind of Asian dishes. I love the flavors and smells and have luckily found that many Asian dishes are fairly simple to replicate at home.

My friend and I made a stir-fry dish the other night with green beans, minced pork, garlic, scallions, and mushrooms that we put over rice. It was incredibly easy to make and had the same flavors as the food I’d buy at one of my favorite Chinese restaurants in the neighborhood where I grew up. Although we ate this dish with rice, I think it would also go well in lettuce cups for a lighter version, or even with noodles. I found the recipe on Tasty (accompanied by a straightforward cooking demo video), but my friend and I switched the recipe up a bit to make it our own. Here is our version:

c9aaa16c-cf47-4392-a960-e259bc575268.jpgIngredients

-1 lb. ground pork

-1 lb. green beans

-4 cloves garlic, diced

-4 scallions, chopped

-4 oz. shiitake mushrooms, chopped

-1 tbsp chili sauce

-dried red chili flakes (optional)

-2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce

-1 tbsp rice vinegar

-1/4 cup sesame oil

 

Instructions

1- In a wok or large pan, heat the sesame oil over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the string beans and cook until blistered. Remove from the pan and set aside.

2- Add more sesame oil if necessary to the pan. Add the scallions and garlic about a minute, or until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and ground pork. Once the pork has browned, stir in the chili sauce and add the red chili flakes. Then add the green beans back to the wok or pan and stir all together.

3- Add the soy sauce or tamari, rice vinegar, and a dash of pepper. Serve over rice or with lettuce cups, or just on its own. Enjoy!

 

Cooking With Fat

Fats and oils are essential for cooking. They flavor and lubricate our food while also conducting heat during the cooking process. While in the past, many fats have received a bad reputation and been avoided, we now know that fast are actually fundamental and fantastic for cooking. However, because there are so many fats to choose from, many people end up cooking with the wrong fats or oils for their dish, or simply improperly using them. When cooking with fats and oils, it’s very important to know at what temperature that specific fat or oil begins to break down, also known as the “smoke point.”

Condiments494Every fat has a smoke point, be it butter, lard, or oil. If you’ve ever seen your pan smoke, typically after it loses that shimmery look, that is a sign that your fat has reached its smoke point. Once this has happened fat begins to lose its healthy properties and can start to take on an unpleasant flavor. Many oils these days will tell you right on the bottle what the smoke point is. The higher the smoke point, the more ways you can cook with the oil, and the higher temperatures you can cook at. Oils with lower smoke points are great for dressings, drizzling, or cooking at lower temperatures.

Here is a list of very common fats and oils and their smoke points:

  • Safflower oil – 510 degrees F
  • Light/ refined olive oil – 490 degrees F
  • Peanut oil – 450 degrees F
  • Clarified butter (ghee) – 450 degrees F
  • Sunflower oil – 440 degrees F
  • Vegetable oil – 400-450 degrees F
  • Canola oil –  400 degrees F
  • Grapeseed oil – 390 degrees F
  • Lard – 370 degrees F
  • Avocado oil – 375-400 degrees F
  • Chicken fat (schmaltz) – 375 degrees F
  • Duck fat – 375 degrees F
  • Vegetable shortening – 360 degrees F
  • Sesame oil – 350 degrees F
  • Butter – 350 degrees F
  • Coconut oil – 350 degrees F
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – 325-375 degrees F

For sautéing, use oil with a medium or lower smoke point, like extra virgin olive oil. When the oil in the pan begins to shimmer, add your food and cook away.

For searing, choose something with a high smoke point like peanut or vegetable oil. Heat it until it is just starting to smoke, then add your meat.

For stir-frying, choose an oil with a really high smoke point, like peanut or safflower oil. The idea it to get a thin layer of smoking-hot oil on the bottom of the wok before adding your ingredients.

Homemade Pad Thai

Pad thai

Here are the makings of a homemade pad thai with my very own twist.  I like to load up on delicious green vegetables, so here I went heavy on the broccoli, bok choy, and green onions and added shrimp for protein.  What I especially love about pad thai are the peanuts. I normally order a side of peanut sauce for my pad thai, but for this recipe I actually added peanut butter.  I happened to have a fancy vanilla bourbon peanut butter, but I’m sure any smooth peanut butter will do the trick.

Ingredients:

-shrimp

-bok choy

-broccoli

-3 cloves garlic

-green onions

-chilis

-2 eggs, lightly scrambled

-fish or oyster sauce

-smooth peanut butter

-lemon or lime

-sesame oil or coconut oil

-pad thai noodles or preferred rice noodlesANE-52793-4

Steps:

1. Heat a pot full of water for noodles. Cook noodles.  When done drain, but set aside some water. Run cold water over the noodles.

2. Meanwhile, heat sesame oil and a little coconut oil in wok or large pan over medium high heat.  Sautee garlic, bok choy, broccoli, and shrimp.  Add salt and pepper.  Flip shrimp after about 3 minutes and cook until opaque. Bok choy should be wilted and broccoli cooked.  Transfer vegetables and shrimp to dish.

3. Add about a teaspoon more oil to the pan and add eggs.  Scramble eggs and add noodles to the pan.  Add fish sauce and peanut butter.  Add shrimp, vegetables, and chilis and turn off stove.  Mix everything, squeeze some fresh lemon or lime, and add more sauce and peanut butter to taste.

Oil Pulling

Oil pulling appears to be the new hype.  It’s yet another home remedy brought to you by  coconut oil, nature’s answer to so, so many things.  If you’re not in the know, here’s a brief video to explain oil pulling…

Scoop out some coconut oil, about a teaspoon, and swish it around in your mouth for at least 15-20 minutes.  If you don’t have coconut oil you can also use other plant-based oils like sesame oil, sunflower oil, or olive oil.  Oil pulling is great for oral hygiene. It may take a couple times to get used to it, but I’d definitely say after the first 10 minutes it’s no big deal.  The first time I tried it I probably took too much coconut oil, so the taste and texture were overwhelming and I had to spit it out.  The trick is to distract yourself while you’re doing it, like have a tv show ready, or power through 20 minutes of work.  It takes your mind off the time.

Oil pulling  began in India and has been used for centuries as a natural way to whiten teeth and clean teeth and gums.  The oil cuts through plaque and removes toxins and bacteria, but it does take at least 15-20 minutes to be effective.  You’ll notice while you’re doing it that your mouth becomes filled mostly with saliva after awhile, and by the time you spit it out it should be a creamy, white color.  When you’re finished, spit into the trash can, not the sink, and rinse your mouth out with warm water.  Try not to swallow the coconut oil, since it’ll should be filled with your bacteria.

There are various oral health benefits from oil pulling, like smoother, whiter teeth and better breath, but some people report feeling overall improvements in their health.

Whenever I oil pull, I do feel like my teeth and smoother and shinier.  Try it for yourselves!

Sources: WellnessMama.com