Category: WFW

WhyFoodWorks is dedicated to people who want to understand what is happening to their food and their bodies when they eat. Each blog entry offers a question or concept about why a particular food or food component has an effect on your physiology. When you know better, you make better choices because you understand the value of food on a whole new level.

Because the understanding doesn’t stop at “why,” each entry will also include a recipe to show you how to integrate more of the right stuff into your diet – and hopefully get you excited to try some new things!

Alternative Flours (+salted peanut butter banana cookies)

Check it out!  I was featured on ABC7’s morning show to discuss this topic!

Refined grains: the original “processed” food?

While wheat has been a dietary staple for humans for thousands of years, the refined flour we make from it has only been around for a little over a century.  Machines make it possible to grind wheat berries into flour, and then separate that flour into its components – the bran, endosperm, and germ.

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The bran contains fiber and B vitamins, the germ contains vitamin E and the oils that make vitamin E more digestible, and the endosperm…well, that’s mostly starchy carbohydrate, which your body quickly turns into sugar.  “White flour” is made from just the endosperm and then usually bleached, and “whole wheat” flour is all the parts of the grain, pulverized (look for unbleached).

The fiber and oils help the endosperm to digest more slowly, and make it much more nutritionally dense than endosperm alone – stripped of those components, blood sugar rises quickly, and the body has to work harder to bring it down to the right range.  Over time, regulating blood sugar becomes more and more challenging to the body – read more about how white flour impacts many body systems – and suddenly the explosion of diabetes we’re seeing isn’t such a mystery!

A little bit of white flour isn’t the problem – this goes far beyond the occasional treat or dessert.  The problem is that white flour (also called refined, enriched or all-purpose flour) is has replaced whole grain flour in a very big way:

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See the big white gap between the dots and the bars?  That’s in part because of increased usage of refined flour, and in part because of our sugar intake went up, too.

The answer is simple

Unfortunately, simple doesn’t mean easy – reversing this trend is a complicated problem on a large scale, from food suppliers to food companies to sales.  But luckily, on an individual scale, it’s EXTREMELY doable.  There are more products than ever on the market that make great substitutes for refined flour – many flours from whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, sorghum, and non-grains like coconut, black bean, and even crickets!

The key is that they are fiber rich and nutrient-dense (not just gluten free or organic, words that tell you nothing about nutritional value!), and you also have to be willing to experiment since not all of them can replace all-purpose flour cup for cup.  Even replacing just part of the white flour in recipes can give you a big nutrient boost!  This guide discusses some considerations; and Bob’s Red Mill provides this one.

Not into baking or cooking?  Here are ways to cut out the white flour:

  • Only buy (and order!) 100% WHOLE wheat or whole grain bread, wraps, bagels, pasta products (if it just says “wheat” that usually means “white flour!” – look for that 100% to be sure the grain used was whole grain)
  • The word “multigrain” is also an indicator refined grains are an ingredient – it just means the maker used multiple grains that could all be refined
  • Snack on nuts and seeds, not pretzels and crackers
  • If you do choose crackers, look for “whole wheat” or “whole grain” to be the first two words on the ingredient list
  • If you’re a cereal eater, look for bran or oat based cereals that have at least 5g of fiber per serving

Recipes to get you started

If you’re ready to get cookin’ then here’s where to start:

Lemon Chia Seed Breakfast Muffins (adapted from The Healthy Maven)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 T chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce or canola oil
  • 2 lemon’s juice (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 lemon’s zest
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl combine almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder, chia seeds and sea salt. In a separate bowl combine oil/applesauce, lemon juice, lemon zest, eggs, honey and vanilla extract. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir to combine. Line a muffin tray with paper liners or silicone liners or grease well and divide batter evenly among wells.

Bake for 23-25 minutes, watching carefully to not burn (unlike I did…). Remove from oven and let cool in tray for 10 minutes. Remove from tray and allow to cool on a wire rack.

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Salted peanut butter banana cookies (adapted from Amy’s Healthy Baking)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 medium banana
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp milk of choice
  • 1/2 cup sugar of choice
  • extra kosher salt for sprinkling

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, stir together the mashed banana, peanut butter, vanilla, and milk. Stir in the sugar. Add in the flour mixture, stirring just until incorporated. Chill dough for 15 minutes (this makes it much easier to work with).

Shape the dough into small spheres and flatten.  Bake for 9-11 minutes. Cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

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For more innovative uses of alternative flours, check out my fellow bloggers:

 

5 essential tools for your dream kitchen (+no-knead bread)

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Form and function

There are thousands of kitchen gadgets out there, and my kitchen has dozens (if not hundreds!).  But if you lined them all up on your counter and could only choose 5 to use, chances are they’d be the ones that are the most universal, sturdy, and have been around forever.  Making sure that those tools are high quality and easy to grab means you’ll be cooking faster and better right off the bat!  Below, I discuss some considerations you’ll want to make before choosing these essentials.

My top 5 essential kitchen tools:

1.
Silicone Spatula Set of 4 with Hygienic Solid Coating

The spatula – great for scraping, dolloping, mixing, stirring and folding.  The benefit of this set is that there are 2 of each size so you can always have 1 in cleaning rotation, and something that will fit in smaller jars and crevices.  The REAL plus is in the design – they’re silicone from tip to end, so there’s no risk of the top becoming separated from the handle, and nowhere for bits of dough or batter to get stuck during cleaning.  And they’re heat safe to 480F! Bonus: they come in 3 colors, sure to suit any kitchen decor.  $16.95 for the set.

2.
Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Oval Wide Dutch Oven

Ah, the dutch oven.  This could be the most versatile cookware ever – it goes from stove top to oven, covered or uncovered, so you can do anything from fry an egg to braise a roast to bake bread.  The enameling makes for easier care – no seasoning required – and means you get to choose from lots of colors.  If you could only have one pot, this would be the best choice!  $169-$249 depending on color.

3.

Measuring Cups & Spoons Set by Morgenhaan

No kitchen is complete without measuring spoons and cups, but SO many designs are flawed!  This set is sturdy (no bending or breaking of handles) has the measurements etched on (painted on always wears off – is that a half teaspoon or a quarter?!), provides both US and metric numbering, and the spoons are narrow and long so they’ll fit into most spice jars.  The cups have a small spout for easy pouring so you can measure fluids too (a dry cup and a fluid cup are the same; liquid measuring cups just leave extra space at the top to prevent spills!).  A 12-piece set for $29.99.

4.

Cuisinart DLC-10SY Pro Classic 7-Cup Food Processor

This is another diversity-driven pick: you can shred cheese and cabbage, slice carrots or potatoes, knead dough, or whip up a sauce, all in this one canister.  With simple controls and the option to buy specialty discs for other slicing styles, this guy should have a home in every kitchen! $119.99.

5.

41enfUPdThL Pyrex Prepware 8-Piece Mixing Bowl Set

Not all mixing bowls are nice enough to serve in – these are, and their kitchen-to-table-ability makes them my pick.  Glass is beautiful to serve with because you can see the food from all angles, and the color coded lids (with sizing info!) allow them to take food beyond prep & serving to storage.  And they’re microwave-safe, too! Mix up cookie dough, pancake batter, toss a salad, or let bread dough rise in one of these – only $29.67 for the set.

That’s my list – what’s on yours?  Here’s a recipe that uses almost all of those kitchen items!

No-knead overnight bread

I experimented with this recipe several times before landing on what worked well for me – I use white whole-wheat flour for a soft bread that’s still high in fiber, and just a bit of AP flour.  With only 3 ingredients and about 10 minutes of hands-on time, this is a great recipe to bake up at the beginning of the week!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of active yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Add 1 1/2 cups warm water and stir to combine until all flour is incorporated scraping down the sides of the bowl.  Cover bowl with plastic (or a lid!) and place in a warm area for 12-18 hours. When ready to bake (dough should be bubbly and sticky), preheat oven with a dutch oven inside at 450F.  Remove hot dutch oven, lightly flour the dough and shape it gently into a loose ball (all surfaces should have a light flour coating), then drop it into the pot. Bake with lid on for 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake for another 10-15 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool before slicing.

Since I mentioned dream kitchens…

Here’s what I’ve been pinning lately!   When I get my hands on a kitchen to reno, I’m definitely going with classic white – though I love the idea of having bottom cabinets painted out in an accent color like the one at left below.  Changing the color scheme could be as easy as an afternoon of knob removal and paint, right?  And ever since seeing that BlueStar copper stove, I have dreams of shiny hazel accents…

Someday, my friends.  Someday!

BlueStar Cooking asked me to write about my favorite kitchen gadgets and dream kitchen elements…I was not paid for my time and do not receive commission on their products.

Your guide to glutamate (+vegan queso salsa dip)

On savory flavor

There are many foods and food components that make food taste savory – that rich, complex taste that’s independent of salty, and sometimes described as “meaty,” and known as “umami.”  One molecule that contributes to those flavors is glutamate – an amino acid that’s found in meat, cheese, and even vegetables including mushrooms, broccoli, and tomatoes.  (Read more here about sensitivity to glutamates, MSG, and the low-glutamate diet for people who are sensitive.)  It’s also found in nutritional yeast, a flaky protein and vitamin-rich product made from yeast cells (I’d write a whole article about its uses, history, and nutritional properties, but this blog post does that quite nicely!).

A word about yeast & yeast extract:

In full disclosure, I was sponsored to help create that video – and I’m grateful to be given a platform for the message!

I was really excited to see my friend Elaine post a recipe that uses nutritional yeast and is both Superbowl friendly and genuinely healthy!  The yeast provides that cheesy flavor, while the creamy texture and cheddar color come from tahini and carrots, respectively.  And it’s nut-free for those concerned about allergies!

 

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picture from EatingByElaine

 

I decided to do mine with another twist, and sub canned tomatoes and chiles instead of soy milk for a Ro’tel-esque spin.  And let me tell you: this tastes AWESOME.  It even got the boyfriend seal of approval to bring to his friend’s Superbowl party today (which is not a healthy foodie oriented kind of crowd).

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Have you used nutritional yeast before?  Any other recipes I should know about?  Without further adieu, here’s the recipe – enjoy!

Vegan queso salsa dip (adapted from EatingbyElaine)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup fresh, room temperature tahini (runny is best, Soom brand is excellent)
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • ½ large lemon, juiced
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 can (15oz) diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • Garnish: sprinkle of paprika, sliced green onions, fresh cilantro

Directions

  1. Bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil and add carrots
  2. When carrots are cooked (soft to a fork, ~10 minutes), drain and add them with all other ingredients except tomatoes to a high speed blender and puree until smooth
  3. Fold in tomatoes and chiles with a spatula
  4. Serve warm with chips or veggies and garnish with sliced green onions, paprika and fresh cilantro. You may want to microwave just before serving.

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Superbowl Snacks Roundup

Well folks, it’s that time of year again…I am completely ambivalent about the teams playing (as always), but super excited for some eating, drinking, and socializing!  It annoys me that healthy food has a bad rap for parties like this – if you’re doing it right, there is NO sacrifice of flavor, fun, or dramatic presentation.  If you’re doing it wrong…well, you get the sad tray of pre-cut veggies that your supermarket has and call that the “healthy option.”

Do not do that.

Here are some gorgeous and delicious options, rounded up from my food networks, and all fit the bill of being nutrient dense and game-day appropriate.  Enjoy!

baked-buffalo-cauliflower-bites-15 Baked Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

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Healthier 7-Layer Dip


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Pollo Asado Fries

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Vegan Warm Nacho Dip (nut-free)

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Spicy Spiralized Sweet Potato Fries

Pizza hummus 2
Pizza Hummus

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Avocado Spinach Dip

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Sweet Potato Skins

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Spicy Salty Popcorn

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Spinach Artichoke Dip

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BBQ Chicken Flatbread

Drink your veggies! (+matcha smoothie bowl)

This is a short and sweet post, with one request – always, always add veggies to your smoothies!  My go-to is dark leafy greens, like spinach and kale (I promise you won’t taste them if you add some sweet fruits like berries and banana!).  Add ins like chia, flax, and nut butters also turn up regularly in the mix, but I am always on the lookout for new ones.  Matcha has been a hot ingredient for a little while (it’s powdered green tea leaves), but I’d never tried it before – and I’d also never made a smoothie bowl!  So here’s to killing 2 birds with one stone:

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The best thing about smoothie bowls is that you can put toppings on for more texture – and get as artsy as you want!  I’m not super big into spending lots of time staging food, but for smoothie bowls it’s pretty easy and the ROI is great.  Under all that granola, coconut, and fruit, there’s an extra-thick matcha smoothie.

Matcha smoothie bowl

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 large handful fresh baby spinach
  • 2 cups berries
  • 1 banana
  • 1 Tbsp matcha powder

Directions

Blend all ingredients until smooth and top with fruit, nuts, and granola of choice.  Makes 2 servings (save one for breakfast tomorrow!).

Want to check out some more interesting ingredients?  Click the blue frog at the bottom for the full RecipeRedux link up!  If you need some more ideas of how to incorporate veggies into smoothies, this round up is EXCELLENT:

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From helloglow!

Is that healthy? (a post about word choice)

It’s one of the most common questions I hear

“I like [insert food of choice here].  Is that healthy?” It’s framed as a simple yes or no question, yet I feel myself taking a deep breath every time I hear it.  “Well…that depends…” is almost always how the answer starts, and it isn’t always brief.  An article posted recently described perfectly the root of how “healthy” a food is can complicate and even create confusion about what we should be eating.

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Here are 2 key paragraphs that make a valuable point:

“I submit to you that our beloved kale salads are not “healthy.” And we are confusing ourselves by believing that they are. They are not healthy; they are nutritious. They may be delicious when prepared well, and the kale itself, while in the ground, may have been a healthy crop. But the kale on your plate is not healthy, and to describe it as such obscures what is most important about that kale salad: that it’s packed with nutrients your body needs. But this is not strictly about nomenclature. If all you ate was kale, you would become sick. Nomenclature rather shows us where to begin.

“ ‘Healthy’ is a bankrupt word,” Roxanne Sukol, preventive medicine specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, medical director of its Wellness Enterprise and a nutrition autodidact (“They didn’t teach us anything about nutrition in medical school”), told me as we strolled the aisles of a grocery store. “Our food isn’t healthy. We are healthy. Our food is nutritious. I’m all about the words. Words are the key to giving people the tools they need to figure out what to eat. Everyone’s so confused.”

I think that is pretty true.  Clearly, we need to eat mostly foods that are nutritious (or nutrient dense, which is roughly a measure of how many micronutrients a food contains per calorie), but “healthy” relies upon context.  Since no single food provides all the nutrients we need, whether a food is a healthy choice is relative.  Did you just eat 5 bananas?  That 6th banana probably isn’t a healthy choice – despite the fact that bananas are nutrient dense.  For a guy who just ran a marathon, a huge white bagel IS a healthy choice – despite the fact that bagels aren’t nutrient dense.  So foods can be both nutrient dense and a good choice, or not nutrient dense and still (conditionally) a good choice.  Separating “healthy” from “nutritious” allows us to talk about the food patterns and individual needs vs the qualities of our food with a little bit more clarity.

The writer goes on to touch on many food issues of our day – the processing problems, confusing labeling, and industry practices.  It’s not new information, and I think it somewhat dilutes his point, but  he ends with a call for people to take more note of what they’re eating and how it’s prepared – a message I’m always on board with.  Is there likely to be a nationwide move away from calling some foods healthy?  Probably not, and maybe it is just semantics – a point several commenters made – but maybe it could help shift the mindset from good food/bad food to consider the bigger picture and ask a few more questions.

What’s your take?

Savory Chicken & Waffles (the RecipeReduxed version!)

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A word on broth

“I received free samples of Progresso Cooking Stock mentioned in this post at no cost. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Progresso Cooking Stock and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”

This week, RecipeRedux is running a contest sponsored by Progresso, featuring a new product of theirs: broth!  I’m always on the lookout for a good broth – with at least a dozen broths and boullions that fill a whole wall in grocery stores, you’d think there would be lots of options, but few make my cut.  Ideally, made with real vegetables (not powders), no preseratives, and without too much sodium added.  That eliminates most of them!  I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got my samples in the mail, but Progresso checks every box – here’s the label for the chicken broth:

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And they also have a vegetable broth, which are even more elusive!   Look for it in the soup aisle in a square blue box. (And don’t forget to check out the rest of the recipes by clicking the blue frog at the bottom of this post!)

I wanted to put a spin on a traditional recipe and use broth in a place it isn’t usually found: savory waffles.  So I made a version of chicken & waffles that takes it from indulgent brunch dish to a cozy, healthy dinner meal…a crisp, hearty waffle that’s fiber rich, pulled chicken with mushrooms and onions, and for that crunch – a pretty fried parmesan crisp!  There’s broth in every layer, from the waffle to the chicken to the easy gravy.  This dinner got rave reviews from my [not so objective but still discerning] tasters and is perfect for cold-weather eating.  Make, share, and enjoy!

Savory chicken & waffles

Ingredients

  • 1 lb chicken thighs
  • 8 oz mushrooms, roughly diced
  • 1 small white onion, roughly diced
  • 3 cups Progresso chicken broth, divided
  • 1.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup flax meal or oat bran
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup canola or olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp dried powdered sage

Directions

In a pot on the stove, heat 2 cups of broth, chicken thighs, mushrooms, and onion to boil and then reduce to simmer and cover.  Simmer for 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked and tender.  Preheat your waffle iron.  Meanwhile, combine flour, flax, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk to combine.  Place the remaining cup of broth, milk, egg and oil in a separate mixing bowl and whisk to blend.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and stir just until mixed; some lumps are ok.  Scoop into your waffle iron (amounts may vary; mine holds ~3/4 cup of batter and makes 3 large waffles) and cook per iron instructions.

When chicken is cooked, use two forks to gently shred it in the broth – you can leave chunks of various sizes.  Strain broth into a separate bowl and add sage.  Heat the butter on medium high until melted in a wide sauce pan, sprinkle in flour and whisk until dissolved and bubbling.  Gently pour broth from the bowl into the sauce pan, stirring continuously.  Adjust heat and continue to stir until the broth thickens.

To make parmesan crisps, heat a non-stick skillet on high and then sprinkle cheese into 4 separate small piles.  Wait for it to sizzle and brown, then gently flip with a non-stick spatula.  Brown the second side and remove to a plate; allow to cool and crisp.

Layer the chicken and mushrooms onto a waffle, drizzle with gravy, and top with a crisp – voila!

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The *new* breakfast rule (+pumpkin pumpkin pumpkin granola)

2015-11-24 14.26.30You read that right.

Not one but THREE pumpkins in this granola…if you count the pumpkin spice (which technically isn’t a pumpkin product, but it’s inherent to the spirit of any sweet pumpkin dish!).  Today I did a food demo/mini seminar at a business out in the Mosaic District, and baked up a huge batch of the granola as snacks for employees while we talked about breakfast.

I’m a big fan of breakfast – not just because of the foods, but because of what it can do for your day energetically when done right.  I’ve followed most of the same rules of thumb for years now, but recently added one: the 12 hour fast.  Pay attention to when you finish eating for the evening, and then how early you typically have breakfast the next day – is the time lapsed 8 hours? 10?  There’s science to back the idea that this could help with weight regulation, breast cancer rates, and even diabetes, and it’s actually a pretty easy tweak!

So track your habits for a week or so and see how those meals fall. Time for an adjustment?

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Pumpkin pumpkin pumpkin granola

Ingredients:

  • 1⁄2 c pumpkin puree
  • 1⁄2 c pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 2 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 2 c old fashioned oats
  • 1⁄4 c packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup coconut flakes
  • 3 Tbsp canola oil + 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c raisins and/or craisins

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine all ingredients but raisins in a mixing bowl, stirring until evenly distributed. Spread into a thin layer on a baking sheet with sides and bake for 1 hour, stirring to allow steam to escape and even heating every 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool before adding raisins. Store in an airtight container. Will keep for 1-2 weeks.

Healthy 2016: nutritious food prep for fast, delicious meals

quionoa bowlphotocred & recipe: the cozy apron

Sick of setting New Year’s resolutions to diet? Tired of feeling confused about what foods are healthy? Frustrated that there isn’t enough time to prepare healthy food? Pants a little tight after the holidays? Disorganized and haphazard in the kitchen?

Start fresh with a plan, customizable recipes, and learn to do it all with cooking demos with me in a MessHall workshop!

Reset your defaults.

Eating healthy is a habit. Your “defaults” – the things you do and eat on a daily basis – are the most important elements of your health. When those are healthy and structured, your life becomes healthy and structured. Don’t go on a diet – have a healthy, intentional diet. It all starts with a plan! This workshop provides you with a hard copy guide to target the areas that matter most, and customize them to fit in your real, busy life.

Learn to meal plan & prep like a pro:

We’ll lay some ground work with a short presentation to highlight some key elements of a healthy diet (for any eating pattern!), show how to make food prep an easy, structured part of your weekend (that won’t take all day!) and enjoy an adaptable meal you can use to plan lunches and dinners for weeks. Then comes the REALLY fun part: creating make-your-own jars to start you off right at home!

What’s included during the workshop:

  • Healthy eating workbook and planner
  • A crash course in nutrition science
  • A delicious, freshly prepared meal
  • Make-your-own chia pudding, granola, and overnight oats jars to take home
  • Improved sense of confidence and mastery in the kitchen – and beyond!

Make 2016 the year you start to do food right.

Diets work…as long as you’re on them! Only make changes you intend to keep – for a lifetime – and ditch the “I’m doing this to lose 10 pounds” mentality. You’ll be able to apply the info you learn here all year long, and far beyond.

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Get tickets here –> https://www.eventbrite.com/e/healthy-2016-nutritious-food-prep-for-fast-delicious-meals-tickets-20066570653

Hope to see you there!

On fish sauce (+spicy brussels sprouts)

I first cooked with fish sauce during a cooking class I took in Thailand in 2008.  It was one of the highlights of my trip – which I did solo for 3 weeks – and Asian cuisine was definitely not in my repertoire at the time!  Let’s revisit that day:

1034_515630655198_9155_nGreat apron, right?  We made curry and pad thai and sticky rice.  But about the fish sauce: it’s a staple of Thai cooking and is made by fermenting fish for months or even years with salt in huge vats.  It smells pungent, tangy – and definitely fishy, of course.  You only need a little bit in a recipe to add lots of flavor depth (due to their tasty umami glutamates); I add a splash anytime I do a stir fry or Asian-inspired sauce.  Look for it in the Asian aisle at the grocery store or any Asian market.

The RecipeRedux theme this month celebrates the round-up’s 54th month of postings (!!) – so everyone turned to the 54th or 154th page of a cookbook to put their spin on a recipe (click on the blue frog at the bottom for the rest of the recipes).

IMG_3128Truth be told: I like Gwyneth Paltrow.  I own her cookbook, IT’S ALL GOOD: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great, (thanks Gracy!) and I like that too – it’s full of veggie-centric recipes that are pretty simple.  And on page 154, she has a recipe for spicy brussels sprouts that includes fish sauce:

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I love that the sprouts are steamed and then sauteed – it cooks them quickly and still gives some nice browning, which you really need in a brussels sprout.  Since I didn’t have 4 cups, I tossed in some gorgeous colored cauliflower (yup, all natural and that vibrant!) which was delicious and beautiful.  The simple sauce gives a hit of spicy and then that delicious savory flavor – I chose to whisk that together and pour it on in the pan, instead of after as her recipe calls for.  And I think you could use the same sauce and cooking technique for a lot of veggies – carrots, broccoli – even winter squash?!  Try it!

Spicy Brussels Sprouts & Cauliflower

Ingredients

  • 2 cups brussels sprouts
  • 2 cups cauliflower (colored optional)
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • dash kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons sriracha (or more if you like it hotter!)
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce (you can sub soy sauce for vegans)
  • 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar

Directions

Trim the ends of the brussels sprouts and cut in half.  Chop cauliflower into bite-sized florets.  Steam all together for 5-6 minutes.  Heat oil in a pan on high and add drained veggies.  Sprinkle on salt.  Saute, moving frequently, until sides are browned (another 5-6 minutes).  In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients with a fork and drizzle over veggies at the end of their cooking.  Toss to coat and serve warm.