Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Veggie Noodle Tom Yum Soup

Many people think of soup as a winter dish. I can somewhat understand this theory based on the ingredients in the soup; however, I find that a zesty, vegetable filled soup can be just as delicious on a warm summer (or SoCal :) day.

Our fridge is typically loaded with vegetables and one of the best ways to use veggies up before they spoil is soup or stir fry’s. TomYum is a clear spicy soup that originates from Laos and Thailand. The name comes from two words “Tom” and “Yam”. “Tom” refers to the boiling process while “yam” means a spicy sour salad. So literally the name Tom Yum is hot and sour soup.  Not too tricky huh? Now I added a special twist to the soup by adding the soba noodles; however, you could most definitely leave these out and it would be just as delicious!

If you haven’t seen lemongrass before it can typically be found in an ethnic grocery store or a specialty market (can be found at Whole Foods). It is green and white in color with razor-like blades and has been used as a super-herb for hundreds of years for medicinal and culinary purposes. Lemongrass does in fact have a very strong citrus flavor when cut or crushed due to the essential oils being released. Lemongrass is anti-microbial and anti-fungal and can be used to inhibit the growth of bacteria in the body externally and internally. Additionally lemongrass can be used for aromatherapy to restore and revitalize the body and in teas to flush toxins and waste. Check out more health benefits here!

1 package of soba noodles
6 cups organic vegetable stock
2 stalks of lemongrass, smashed and cut into 1 inch slices
5 kaffir lime leaves, shredded (found at an Asian food store or specialty market)
4 tablespoons of fresh squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
1 tablespoon of fresh grated ginger
1 tablespoon of chili paste
3 cloves of minced garlic
2 cups of broccoli florets
2 baby bok choy, chopped
1 cup of shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 cup of sugar snap peas
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 carrots sliced
2 green onions, sliced thinly
Cilantro for garnishing

Add all ingredients from the vegetable stock through the garlic to a large stockpot and bring to a boil.

In the meanwhile prepare the soba noodles as directions indicate on the package and set aside.

Add the broccoli, bok choy, mushrooms, bell pepper and carrots to the boiling stock. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for approximately 15 minutes. Add in the sugar snap peas and simmer for an additional five minutes. Remove from heat.

Add soba noodles to individual bowls, top with Tom Yum broth and vegetables. Garnish with cilantro and green onion before serving. Delicious!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

RAWkin Mediterranean Cauliflower Salad

My fiancé’s mother arrives tomorrow morning so I have been busy cleaning, planning meals and trying to get some work done in advance because well, it’s difficult to get things done when I’d rather be enjoying time spent with my guests. There were three things that came to mind when I started thinking about my newest post…

1.     I needed to get a post written for my blog today!
2.     I wanted to try and use things I had on hand and in my refrigerator
3.     It is sunny and beautiful and I wanted to create something light and refreshing

Are you ready to see what I came up with?? Of course you are because you already got a sneak peek from the picture above! Silly me J. Anyway, I used a handful of raw veggies, a couple of fresh herbs, some citrus, olive oil and a bit of sea salt. Voila - RAWkin Mediterranean Cauliflower Salad. This was so easy, requires no cooking and is surprisingly addicting.

Typically I choose one item in the recipe to talk about in terms of the health benefits…and well, lets be honest, most times it is a vegetable. Today I have decided to switch things up a bit and feature the amazing herb, Parsley! Parsley is rich in so many vitamins such as: Vitamins A, K, Beta Carotene, Folate, Iron and Vit C.  Actually, the Vitamin C found in Parsley supports the absorption of Iron and can help cure anemia and fatigue. This herb can improve the hormonal balance in women and can be helpful in easing cramps during menstruation and other pre-menstrual symptoms. Parsley is also a power plant when it comes to chlorophyll and can curb the growth of bad bacteria in the body. Its volatile oils can prevent certain forms of cancer and consuming parsley daily (uh hum…in your smoothies or juices! Add it to this recipe!) may reduce high blood pressure and prevent high blood pressure. So next time this little herb is used as a garnish on your plate – EAT it!!

1 small head of cauliflower
1 red bell pepper, diced
2-3 zucchini chopped into cubes
1 cup of cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced (I used yellow!)
1 cup of kalamata olives, sliced
½ cup of chopped mint
½ cup of chopped parsley
¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
Juice from two lemons
2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
Sea salt

Grate or finely chop the cauliflower (so it looks like rice or little crumbles) into a large bowl. Squeeze the juice from ½ of one lemon and 1/8 cup of EVOO into the bowl and stir. Set aside.

Chop the remaining veggies and herbs and add them to the cauliflower along with the olives.

Squeeze the juice from the remaining lemons into a small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil, garlic and salt. Once it starts to emulsify pour it over the veggie mixture, stir and serve!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Strawberry Lime Mini Desserts

I’m sure that some of you may despise me for this excitement-filled post about Spring because, well, I know that Spring hasn’t made an appearance in some parts of the country yet :). But contrary to what you may think, this post is intended to get you just as excited about the change in season as it is for those of us on the west coast! I will offer you one word - strawberries! Where does your mind wander when you think of the word strawberry?

I’ll go first, dessert! It is strawberry season here in California and they are everywhere! Grocery stores, farmers markets and stands on the side of the road. The berries are juicy and sweet and a rich vibrant red (all the way through!) in color. I purchased a great big carton of them, even though my fiancé does not eat strawberries, and figured I could eat all of them by myself. I was wrong. My eyes were once again bigger than my tummy :) Naturally, I did not want the berries to spoil so I decided to whip up a tasty treat using strawberries and limes as the filling and almonds and coconut as the crust.  These mini desserts not only look awesome for Spring/Summer but they taste amazing too!

Strawberries have been ranked number 27 on the 50 best antioxidant sources among commonly eaten foods (many of these 50 are spices and number four when only fruits were considered. The lovely red berries support cardiovascular health, improve the regulation of blood sugar and may prevent certain types of cancer such as breast, cervical and colon. Strawberries are also loaded with vitamin C, which boosts our immune system, helps detoxify our body and promotes healing of our cells.


Crust Ingredients
1 cup of raw almond meal (ground raw almonds)
½ cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
4-5 large medjool dates (pits removed)
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 teaspoon of coconut oil

Filling Ingredients
1 cup of raw cashews (soaked in water for at least 1-3 hours)
2 cups of sliced strawberries
Zest and juice from one lime
½ heaping cup of coconut cream or coconut butter (can be found at Trader Joes, Whole Foods and most grocery stores in the ethnic food aisle)
2 tablespoons of raw honey or agave
1 teaspoon of coconut oil
4-5 drops of liquid stevia

* Recipe makes 12 mini desserts

Put all of the crust ingredients into a blender or food processor and mix until you have a sticky dough.

Next, get your mini cheesecake pan or muffin pan out and press the almond/date mixture down into the pan to form the crust. Place the pan in the freezer or refrigerator while you make the filling.

Rinse the blender or food processor out so you start with a clean slate! Add the cashews and lime-juic (make sure you save the peel so you have the zest for later!) and blend until smooth.

Add the strawberries, coconut cream, coconut oil, honey and stevia. Continue to blend until well mixed, thick and creamy.

Remove the cheesecake/muffin pan from the freezer. Top each crust with strawberry mixture and lime zest. If you have extra strawberries you can also top each mini dessert with half of a strawberry or a thin slice.

Store in the freezer. Let each dessert sit for a few minutes before serving so it thaws slightly and becomes creamy. 

* To remove from a muffin pan, use a sharp knife and carefully insert the knife between the dessert and the side of the pan. Gently work your way under and around the dessert. They should pop out easily.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Roasted Beet Pasta Sauce

Wow! Life just turned up its speed on me and things got crazy…in a good way J. Generally after a busy week, or when I’m feeling tired, I start to crave comfort foods. You know what I mean right - foods that are warming and often times rich, thick and creamy. But, yes there is a but, my body does not agree with foods that come with rich, thick and creamy (i.e. cheese, heavy cream, cream soups, butter, etc.). And so I set out to create a pasta dish that seemed like comfort food and would leave me feeling light and nourished rather than full and sluggish. It is my pleasure to introduce to you this creamy, healthy (check out the health benefits here!) and lip-smacking good Roasted Beet Pasta Sauce!

For this recipe, I topped brown rice pasta noodles with the beet sauce and roasted Brussels sprouts; however, you can use any pasta and veggie of your choice. Oh and don’t forget the goat cheese. Though I try to stay away from cheese most of the time, goat cheese and beets just go together if you ask me J Use just a little bit!

* Sorry for all the noodle recipes lately, you can look forward to a Spring dessert next week!

4 medium sized beets
½ cup of purified water (or vegetable stock) to thin out the sauce
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
4-5 fresh basil leaves
2 cloves of roasted garlic
Sea salt (I love Himalayan pink salt)

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Rinse the beets under fresh water, cut the beet greens off of the beets and wrap individually in foil. Transfer the beets to a pan or baking dish and roast for approximately 40 minutes or until you can easily pierce the beet with a fork. Add your garlic cloves (with skin on) to the oven for the last 10 minutes.

Remove the foil and let the beets cool long enough for you to handle. Use a wet cloth or paper towel and gently remove the beet skin or peel. It should come off easily. Cut the beets in smaller chunks and transfer to a blender or food processor.

Add the garlic (skin removed), olive oil, basil leaves and vegetable stock or water to the blender or food processor and mix until creamy. Continue to add stock or water until you reach your desired consistency. Add salt to taste.

Serve over your favorite pasta and top with your favorite veggie (the Brussels sprouts paired nicely).