Monday, April 4, 2011

Tempeh with Mushrooms and Choy Sum (Bok Choi)

One of our favorite things to eat is tempeh. Not many people know what it is or where it is from. If they do know what it is, they think it is just a healthy meat substitute (which it is..but it is also so much more!). I would give an entire run-down on the background of Tempeh but Wikipedia does it well here.
For this very simple recipe you need...

  • 1 package of your favorite tempeh (I get mine from Trader Joe's)
  • 2 pounds or so baby choy sum (substitutions for choy sum would be any Chinese green: bok choi, Chinese broccoli, napa cappage, even spinach would be good.
  • Any mixture of mushrooms - button, beech, wood ear, shiitake, oyster... etc.
  • 2 cloves of garlic or 1 tsp of crushed garlic
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 3 - 5 tablespoons of oyster sauce (don't really measure. Just start small and add more to your taste)
  • 2 - 4 tablespoon sesame oil (or to taste - I like a lot)
  • 1 tablespoon soba base. If you don't have this just add a little more soy sauce and a teaspoon of brown sugar or honey.
  • 3 tablespoons of corn starch mixture for thickening
  • Sesame seeds for sprinkling

Cut your tempeh into cubes...

Wash and dry your greens...

Assemble your flavors. Now, I know some of this wouldn't be available to certain people (like in my home town in Lake County). Substitute soba base with a little soy sauce, sake or dry sherry, and some brown sugar or honey. I know this isn't really what the base contains but it would give the same salty/sweet flavors and be just as delicious.

Fry up your garlic in a little oil...

Fry mushrooms on high heat.

When the mushrooms are about half way fried throw in the tempeh and a little more oil if you need.

When the tempeh is browned and toasty it is time to pack in the choy sum (or whatever other veggie you are using). Drizzle a good amount of oyster sauce, soy sauce, soba base and sesame oil over the top of the greens and cover with a lid.

It only takes a few minutes to wilt so keep checking. When the greens are almost tender mix in a few spoonfulls of the cornstarch mixture. Give it a taste and adjust. If you added way too much of everything and it is horribly salty, add some water and drain a little of the sauce.

Add lots of sesame seeds and enjoy.

This dish has everything you need. Salty, sweet, fiber, protein, veggies. Eat with rice or egg noodles for some carbs and its a meal! If you like spicy, use chili sesame oil.... mmmm!!!

Enjoy eating healthy!

Sunday, April 3, 2011



Cupcakes, a set on Flickr.

Wow, I really need to get back to blogging. Lately I have been so busy working full time and being a full time mom as well! Part of being a full time mom to a little girl is doing fun things in the kitchen. I really want to make her a beautiful princess cake in June for her 3rd birthday so I had to review egg free recipes to find one that tastes good. Often, these cakes are super crumby and just weird. BUT I think I found 2 that I really love. On there are quite a few cake/cupcake recipes that are absolutely delicious and your egg loving friends would never know the difference. I did change around her chocolate cake recipe quite a bit and I will make it again soon with the ingredients I changed. But for now I would just like to post a link to my cupcake designs. I know when I was trying to find "spring-y" cupcakes I was mostly just looking for design ideas. For these I used a basic 8 piece Wiltons beginners piping kit. I also bought 2 other tips for a flower and a really small star. This is my second time piping any designs and I am getting the hang of it more and more.

The recipe for the icing is below...

Vegan coconut butter-cream icing:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks)
1/4 cup refined coconut oil (or cold unrefined coconut oil)
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
almond or coconut milk (only if icing is too dry)

Using a hand or stand mixer with a whip attachment beat your oil, margarine and vanilla on high until fluffy. Add in your powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time. If mixture is too dry add milk just a spoon full at a time. It should look nice and creamy (and taste really good!).
If you want to color it try using things you may already have on hand. Try using jams or jellies pressed through a strainer for purples, blues, reds or light oranges. Coconut goes with just about any flavor. For yellow, try using old, stale tumeric powder. I know it sounds weird but the stuff is so rich in color and virtually flavorless, especially when mixed with so much sugar. For a light fluffy green try adding in 1/2 of a cold avocado with just a small squeeze of lemon juice. It will be so creamy and should be a pale green. For a dark green, look in your natural food store in the supplement section for powdered cholera. And for skin tones light and up to a dark brown try adding a little chocolate or some home made carmel color. Just playing around with colorful things you may already have in your kitchen will lead to a world of healthy discovery.
I sure hope the FDA finally bans the use of these chemical colors! They are not only harmful to our bodies but just plain unnecessary!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Eating Taboo foods - Raw Chia Oatmeal

So many poeple have asked me, "uhhh... what are you eating?!"
Probably because it looks like I am eating a pile of frog eggs or something equally as strange. I have to admit, yes, it looks gross. But I have never been one to decline something that looks strange or has some taboo behind it. Lime roasted crickets are yummy, dark chocolate grasshoppers are even better, meal worms are.... meal-ey, not a fan of grilled spiders (actually I think it was just the sauce they had on them), uni (aka sea urchin) is absolutely decadent, durian is strangely delicious but only if it is super cold at almost a soft-serve consistancy... I just don't understand how Andrew Zimmern can't eat it! You get the point. This recipe, I believe, would qualify as "raw." Coming from Lake/Mendocino County there were many raw foodies, vegans, vegetarians, as well as the cow-folk who raised their own animals to eat and sell. Generally, people who do eat meat, have this sort of phobia when it comes to the words 'organic' or 'all natural' and even more so to 'vegan' and 'vegetarian.'
Well below I present to you, raw - vegan - organic - good for you - Chia Oatmeal

I have been making this for a month or two now and rather than scooping each ingredient individually into bowls I mixed together a whole tupperware container full. In this container I have:

  • 1/2 cup chia seeds

  • 1 cup rolled oats

  • 1/3 cup toasted pecans

  • 1/3 cup shreded coconut (unsweetened)

  • 1/4 cup flax meal

  • 1/4 cup golden rasins

  • 1/4 cup dried blueberries

  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds

  • 1/4 cup cocao nibs

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon

I have a reason for each ingredient in here. Chia seeds are very hydrating, filling and packed with omegas, calcium, potassium and other good stuff. Nuts are high in good fats, protein, and.... taste good. Same goes for the coconut. Flax meal (ground flax seeds) is high in fiber, omega 3's, and phytochemicals. The dried fruits have lots of fiber and "good" sugars as well as iron. Hemp seeds are another one of those omega packed foods with lots of calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese EFA's and amino acids that we all need to stay healthy. Cinnamon helps to digest the sugars that I love to eat.

I like to use about 1/3 cup of this dry mixture with about 1/4 cup coconut milk (full fat!) and maybe a cup of vanilla almond milk with a splash of maple syrup because I like things sweet.

I really don't measure. I just pour whatever I can into my bowl, let it sit in the fridge overnight and if it is too thick in the morning I add a little more almond milk to thin things out.

In the morning it is like a thick pudding almost. Sometimes I eat it cold, or if I want something hot I will put it in the microwave for a minute and eat it hot. Usually I just take it out and let it come to room temprature and eat it when I get to work. I really enjoy it, strange as it looks. It keeps me full, alert and I think because of the omega overload it keeps me happy all day! :)

What are some of the things you love to eat that people always want to comment on? I will usually get lots of gag sounds, turned up noses and whatnot. Whatever! I don't like what most of those people eat either so we're even! ha!

If you don't have a store that carries these ingredients you can find them online, and usually much cheaper at that. I have many of the ingredients I use daily in my "aStore" (see Amazon Store tab above) which have free shipping for most items through For other natural goodies, check out and use ZAL862 for $5 off your order.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

More Mushrooms Please

So it all started last night. Cold sweats, chills, and insomnia. Yep, viruses are kicking in. Poor Tom has a 100.4 fever, which for an adult is high. Alina seems fine so far but I am going to make some food to kick our immune system into high-gear. Mixed mushrooms with scallops with a miso soup. I swear by mushrooms and miso when it comes time for all those nasty virus bugs to float around. Miso is fermented and packed with probiotics (or koji) and has some pretty amazing healing powers as do all kinds of mushrooms. I was once sick for 2 months and nothing seemed to help until this smelly hippie guy gave me some shrooms... not that kind. They were supplements from the health food store. I don't remember the brand but anything with a good mix will do. I was 100% better within a week. Mushrooms will forever be a favorite.

Ingredients for Mushrooms and scallops:

  • TONS of mushrooms, I used king oyster, shiitake, mitake, and brown beech mushrooms
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • however much scallops you feel like eating, I used 3/4lb of the small ones
  • 3 finely chopped green onions
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • approx 1 tablespoon corn starch mixed with water or broth, for thickening
  • white pepper

Chop up all your mushrooms and get them ready for frying with garlic and the white parts of the green onion. Fry them with a good amount of oil (or butter) over med-high heat.

Once your mushrooms have softened, its time to toss in the scallops. Turn down your heat to medium, throw in some more green onion and generously dust with white pepper.

Time to add 1 - 2 table spoons of oyster sauce. Start small, you can always add more.

After a quick stir, add some of the corn starch mixture to thicken. It only takes a little. I used about 2 tablespoons and let it simmer for a few seconds.

Turn it out onto a plate so people can serve themselves. It only takes a few minutes for these small scallops to cook so don't over-do it! If you think they are just under-cooked, turn off the heat. The residual heat from the dish will finish them. Overcooked scallops are like pencil erasers... ew.

See here for my post on how to make miso soup (and not from a pack of powder!). I only used a little seaweed and some dried shiitake mushrooms in this soup tonight.
Food like this really has what it takes to boost your immune system and ward off cold and flu bugs. If you are already sick, you will be over it in no-time!

What are some of your cold and flu remedies that you swear by? Tom's mom makes a syrup by steaming honey and kumquats. It is absolutely delicious. I will beg her to make it even if I am not sick! I drink it straight, make a tea-type drink from it, or put it over cheesecake or ice cream... mmmmm!!!

I sort of refuse going to the doctor unless I am either dragged there by family or I have been sick for months (which has only happened once). I had a major allergic reaction to antibiotics so I swore off all of them. I'm not saying you shouldn't take them if you really need them! There comes a time when they are just necessary! But for me, I do all that I can to prevent ever having to take them in the first place.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sticky Fritters! (read: experiment!)

Like the title says, this was a complete experiment. I had made 3 cups (dry) of sweet brown rice last night because I wanted to make some sushi rolls with brown rice. I failed to pay attention to the "new crop" sticker on the front of the bag which means you need to use less water.

So after using the full amount of water I was staring at the stickiest gooiest mess.

Too bad.

We were all craving some maki and had even called our friend Sam over for some. We all looked at each other and unanimously decided we would go have Taiwanese style hot-pot (aka
Shabu-Shabu or Huo Guo).
The next day I had this bright idea of making this sticky rice into pancakes! I really wanted to put in some mushrooms but my
BTTR kit just wasn't ready to pick yet... I think just a couple more days.
Like everything I make, you can change around the ingredients. Even make them vegan if you like.

Ingredients in this batch:

  • 2 - 3 cups cooked sweet brown rice
  • 3 sliced green onions
  • 1 large, boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup thawed frozen peas
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • small amount of chicken broth to thin out the mixture if needed
  • plenty of sesame seeds
  • soy sauce

Don't pay attention to the small jar of chia seeds sitting there. I thought I might use them for thickening... needless to say, the mixture was thick enough!

Chop your chicken into smaller-than-bite-sized pieces and fry them with some garlic and the white parts of the green onion along with lots of white pepper (or black, whatever) and some salt.

When the chicken is done, add your drained peas with a little drizzle of sesame oil and heat through.

I really tried mixing in the rice with the little rice paddle but that gave me the meanest hand cramps. So I reached in and smushed everything together with my hand. I did add about 2 table spoons of chicken broth but when I was frying them I realized I shouldn't have. They would have been better more on the dry side.

Once everything is mixed, give it a quick taste test. I didn't want mine too salty because I planned on dipping it in soy sauce.
Heat a flat frying pan over med-high with some vegetable oil. Drop in small scoops onto the hot, oiled pan and flatten them out with a rubber spatula. The rubber (actually silicone) spatula is essential for stick-free flattening. I sprinkled on some sesame seeds and let them sizzle for about 10 minutes on medium heat.

When they were nice and golden, I flipped them over for another 10 or so minutes.

When they were brown and crispy I put them on a plate and drizzled with soy sauce, sesame oil and sprinkled on some green onions. Though it was a bit time-consuming in the frying stage, they were pretty yummy, I must say...

They reminded me of
Banh Tet minus the banana leaf, pork and mung bean.
Now, what to do with the other half of the rice I made? *sigh*
I'm not sure. Anyone out there have some ideas for me? I would make a pudding but I am vowing to cut down on my sugar intake for the year of 2011 and I am not one of those people who say, "well, i am going to cut it down in a week so let me get all the sugar I can in while I can!" That just doesn't make me feel good.

Speaking of new years resolutions, what are some of yours? I'm not one who usually sticks to them but this year I really am going to try and cut down on sugar! It hasn't caused any issues for me (that I know of) but I really do consume quite a bit of sugars... organic, raw, coconut sugar, agave, maple, dried fruits, whatever... I eat a lot of the stuff.