Archive for the 'Detox' Category

Tofu Fried Rice with Kale and Mushrooms

Hi there again – as you probably noticed, I am not blogging as frequently as I used to and it is mostly due to the incredibly slow internet speed and the nonexistence of wordpress in China. I have to use a way to get around that, which makes the process even slower and uploading pictures an incredibly frustrating process. Nevertheless, I am committed to this blog and I still love it.

I have hired a new Ayi (domestic help) who has the reputation of being an excellent cook and I hope I’ll learn a lot from her. She won’t start until August, so you’ll have to wait with me until then.

We went on a week long holiday to our former home, Thailand, and I took lots of pictures at my favorite market. I’ll hold on to those until I find a place with faster internet, which might not be until our summer holiday. I also finally completed a 21-day-Clean-detox and feel great. Some of you might remember my first attempt in August 2010, which I cut short after 14 days and fell into an omnivorous food binge. Luckily that didn’t happen this time around and I feel refreshed, healthy and definitely lighter.

So what can you expect in the weeks to come? An all time favorite lentil soup recipe,  miso soup with mushrooms and soba, my wonderfully gratifying sourdough bread experience and today this fried rice recipe, which I make all the time. I am surprised it hasn’t made it onto the blog until today. Here we go…

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Chickpea and Brown Rice Patties

Turns out, my second organic chicken purchase here in Beijing hasn’t worked out as planned either. I butterflied and roasted it, but the meat was super tough and not worth the effort. The chicken had hardly any breast and very skinny thighs, although the cavity was very fatty and loaded with unpleasant remains, so needless to say, I decided I’d rather eat beans and tofu for the rest of my time here than try that again.

I made these chickpea and brown rice patties the next night and they were delicious and much more gratifying. I found the recipe in the latest “Whole Living” magazine and adapted is slightly. They were not as dense as some other veggie burgers I have made, and the uncooked consistency was a little like mashed potatoes, despite me adding more rice to the food processor as the original recipe called for.  The patties turned out crisp on the outside and soft on the inside and held their shape very well. Nothing worse than when they fall apart in the pan and you end up turning them into one huge pancake.

I fried up one onion and carrot with a few cloves of garlic, before adding them to the food processor. You can also add them in their raw state, but I prefer the cooked flavor and texture. I added 3 cups of cooked chickpeas (2 cans, rinsed and drained), 3 cups of cooked brown rice, 1/2 cup coriander, thick stems removed, 2 eggs (you might want to start with one and add the second one if needed), salt and pepper and whizzed it all into a thick paste. Rather than forming patties with my hands, I heaped the batter in large spoonfulls into the hot frying pan and flattened and shaped them after turning them over.

The recipe in the magazine asks for mashing the ingredients together, which will give you a chunkier patti. You’ll need less brown rice, mince the coriander first, and use a bit of elbow grease.

I’ll be making those again soon, they were such a hit with the gang and go with just about everything.

Anyway, here is the recipe.

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Sesame Kale Chips

Here is my first post from China, and I am sorry that it is a recipe you can come across very easily nowadays and that it is not even remotly related to Chinese food. I made it just before leaving Massachusetts and probably won’t make it until we go back for our next holiday. Kale, or at least the types of kale we’re used to, isn’t available here or perhaps I haven’t found it yet. I did however find some local organic farms, which I will visit next week. Very exciting, especially in the dead of winter.

Our luggage full of food got through customs without so much as a glance – a huge relief, as it was loaded with plenty of treasures from Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Now we just need to be as lucky with our Australian biodynamic olive oil, spices and bottles of wine hidden deep inside our moving boxes in our container, still out at sea.

In the few days we have been here, we had amazing Peking Duck at the very famous “Dadong” restaurant and very mediocre noodles. The kids had a great time spotting “unusual” ingredients on the menus, such as sea cucumber intestines, bullfrog, turtle, donkey, innards of every kind, soya pigeon, etc. I am planning to take my camera along to future restaurant and market visits and let you know what I found. I started checking out grocery stores and supermarkets that sell everything from electronics, to underwear to milk all the way from Germany. I found a few very sad looking organic vegetables, which were harvested long before Chinese New Year, and organic chicken and pork. The chicken still has its head and feet attached, which will be interesting when it comes to preparing dinner tonight. I had the choice between spring chicken, hen and rooster. I went for the hen, but it felt almost a bit too real. No doubt we will be well fed during this adventure here, hopefully without too much dog or donkey meat thrown into the mix.

Go make some kale chips now! It’s so easy and quick and a delicious snack which is loved by all. I am jealous already…

Ingredients

1 bunch of kale (any other than cavolo nero, also known as tuscan or lacinato kale, will be good)

1/4 cup sesame seeds

3 tablespoons olive oil

sprinkle of salt

Method

Preheat oven to 200F (100C) convection heat, or 225 regular heat.

Wash and dry kale. Take a leaf into one hand and use the other hand to tear off the leafy part, starting at the thick end of the stem and moving all the way to the top of the leaf. Tear the stemless leaves into roughly 2×2 inch size pieces and put in a large bowl. Repeat with other leaves.

Drizzle kale with olive oil, sprinkle with sesame seeds and salt. Mix well.

Place kale in single layer on parchment lined baking tray and bake for 25 minutes, turning kale over half way through. If some of the kale hasn’t turned crispy after 25 minutes, bake for a few more minutes.

Eat straight away, or store in air tight container for a 2-3 days.

 

Prep Work

I was tired yesterday and the only thing I wanted to do, other than sleeping, was to cook or bake something. Sleeping wasn’t an option. All three kids were at home with me and my husband was sitting on an airplane to Beijing. The kids were tired too, and in need for entertainment, so I asked them to bake the cookies while I prepare dinner. I got a bit carried away after a long stare into the refrigerator. I had been on a bit of a food shopping binge lately and there were more vegetables in my fridge than we would ever be able to eat. I decided to prep and cook them in order to speed up and facilitate our dinner preparation this week. So out came the cauliflower, broccoli, beets, pumpkin, squash, parsnips, chard, kale and mushrooms. With the oven already on, I quickly turned the kale into sesame kale chips (recipe later this week), while I chopped and sliced the rest. The sugar pumpkin, was cut into 1 inch cubes for roasting, while the squash was halved, deseeded and roasted cut side down. I scrubbed the beets, drizzled them with oil and put them into a small roasting pan, covered with aluminium foil. I cut the parsnips into 1/2 inch x 2 inch sticks, drizzled more olive oil over them and found the last free spot for them inside the oven.

I am not sure if you ever roasted your cauliflower (it took me 10 + years of steaming, before switching over), but now I don’t want to eat it any other way anymore. I remove all leaves and the thick middle stalk from the cauliflower, place it on a cutting board, stem side down, and slice it between 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. I break apart the slices to get bite size pieces and place them in a bowl, together with 1 teaspoon turmeric, salt and freshly ground pepper and yet again, olive oil. Everything gets a good mix in the bowl, before I spread it on a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Roasting time is 20-30 minutes on 375 F (190C), or until the edges start to turn brown.

While my oven was going at full speed, I cut the mushrooms into quarters, minced 4 cloves of garlic, removed the thick stems of the chard and cut it into 1 inch slices. In a large pan, I sauteed the garlic first in some olive oil, added the mushrooms and a tiny bit of white wine, salt and pepper and cooked everything until tender, less than 10 minutes. I removed the mushrooms from the pan, careful to leave some of the garlic behind, and added the chard and a little more white wine. I put the lid on and cooked the greens until just wilted, less than 5 minutes. After a bit of seasoning and a good stir, I removed the chard from the pan into a bowl.

The beets were done after about one hour and I peeled the skin right off them once they had cooled down a bit. I scraped the flesh out of the acorn squash and put it into a bowl ready for a quick soup or risotto. Here is a picture of the beets and everything else.

All of this didn’t take me more than a couple of hours and with the result, we are set for a range of delicious meals in the coming days. I had cooked a pot full of chickpeas as well, so we didn’t need to go protein free.

Yesterday night we had this:

I sauteed a diced onion, added some of the roasted pumpkin pieces, half of the mushrooms and chard, a few handfuls of chickpeas, a little white wine and chicken stock. I ate mine with left over rice, while the kids had theirs with pasta and a good bit of parmesan sprinkled over it. Yum!

Today, we had pumpkin soup with ginger and coconut milk. Tomorrow it’ll be beets with goats cheese for lunch, roast vegetable pizza for dinner and frittata on Thursday. The rest of the chickpeas will either be turned into hummus with the remaining pumpkin thrown right in or I’ll make my beloved pumpkin and chickpea salad. One thing I didn’t do was caramelizing a few onions, which would have been another great addition to any of those meals. Next time!

 

Kale Salad with Baked Beets, Walnuts, Sprouts and Creamy Goat’s Cheese

I love kale in all forms and shapes and to my credit I did so even before it became fashionable. It is one of my favorite vegetables to grow during our mild Australian winters, because it is so prolific and doesn’t require a lot of attention. We had so much of it last year, I could have sold it at the market. To me, Cavolo Nero is the king of kale, but I also like the curly, rougher kind. As it’s still summer here, although not according to the calendar, I don’t have any left in my garden, but thankfully others do. So far I have mainly cooked with it, except for the baby leaves which I add to mixed green salads. On a recent stay in Los Angeles however, I discovered marinated kale in a salad at the fabulous small chain restaurant “The Veggie Grill“. I tried it out at home and discovered that if I dress the tough and chewy curly kale with balsamic dressing and let it sit for an hour or longer, it turns into a lovely and not at all tough or chewy salad. I have made it almost every day for nearly 2 weeks now and everybody who was lucky enough to taste some agreed with me. It’s divine and a welcome alternative to the good old green salad. I like to dress it up with roasted beets, toasted nuts and a little creamy fresh goat’s cheese. I also had some mung bean and broccoli sprouts which were a great addition. Give rocket and spinach a little break and try this. It makes the loveliest, most satisfying and super healthy lunch or is delicious as a side dish at the dinner table. Best of all, it doesn’t wilt like most green salads do which makes it perfect for the buffet table.

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Green Lentil Hummus

The other day I cooked far too many Puy (green) lentils. I turned them into a lentil salad and lentil burgers and still had some left. A lentil hummus came to mind and that’s what I made. It has a nuttier flavour than the traditional chickpea one, but everyone loved it. I made wraps for school lunches 3 days in a row and ate the rest with cut up veggies and toasted pita chips. If you like to make things from scratch and try to avoid using cans, this one is for you. The lentils cook in less than 30 minutes without the need for pre-soaking. I cook them in plenty of boiling, unsalted water for 20-30 minutes, checking repeatedly for doneness after about 20 minutes.

The other ingredients are pretty much the same: tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper. I also added water, since my lentils were quite dry and I didn’t want to add any more oil. If you use canned lentils, you might not need any water or can probably use less of it.

This recipe makes a lot of hummus – perfect for a party or a large crowd.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked Puy lentils (about 11/4 cups dried) or 2 cans
  • 4 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 7 tablespoons olive oil (or a little less and more water instead)
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons water (less or more depending on the dryness of the cooked lentils)

Method

Combine all ingredients (except water) in a food processor. Depending on the consistency, slowly add water, keeping in mind that this hummus tends to thicken up a bit more in the hours to come.

‘Spring Cleaning’ Recipes

Now that you know all about my recent detox adventure, I am excited to share some of the truly amazing meals I have eaten during that time. They were a fantatsic success in my recent ‘Spring Cleaning’ cooking class and are totally suitable for all those of you who don’t have the slightest interest in doing a detox. The recipes below are inspired by the ones in the book ‘Clean‘. I used different ideas and combined them in the Quinoa Salad recipe, but the Stir-Fry recipe is almost identical to the one in the book.

Quinoa Salad with Ginger-Miso Dressing

 

serves 4

Ingredients

for the salad

  • 1/2 cup white quinoa, rinsed and drained or a mixture of white and black or red quinoa
  • 4 spring onions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint
  • 1 tablespoon chopped coriander
  • 1 stick celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small zucchini or cucumber, chopped
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, soaked in water for 2 hours, drained
  • 2 cups of mixed greens, washed and picked

for the dressing

  • 1-inch (2.5 cm) piece of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup white sweet miso, also called young ‘shiro’ rice miso
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon light agave nectar (optional)

Method

Place rinsed quinoa in a small saucepan with 3/4 cup of water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer with lid on for 12-15 minutes or until germ ring is visible and quinoa has softened. Remove from stove, fluff quinoa with a fork and let cool.

To make dressing; in a food processor, blend ginger, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and miso. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If it’s too sour, add one teaspoon of light agave nectar and give it another whiz. Add 1 tablespoon of water if you prefer a runnier dressing.

Mix quinoa with chopped herbs, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Stir in dressing. Serve on top of greens on large platter.

Stir-Fried Vegetables with Chicken and Buckwheat Soba Noodles

 

serves 4

Ingredients

  • 250 g 100% Buckwheat Soba
  • 2 carrots, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas
  • 1 cup zucchini, sliced thinly
  • 1 baby bok choi, sliced length wise
  • 3 spring onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander, chopped
  • olive or natural (not toasted) sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon wheat free tamari or nama shoyu
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper

for the cooked chicken breasts

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper

Directions

To make marinade, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add chicken breasts to marinade and coat evenly. Cover and put in fridge for a minimum of 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).

Place marinated chicken breasts with marinade in oven proof dish, cover with aluminium foil and bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through. Let cool slightly before cutting into thin slices.

In the meantime, bring 2 quarts (2 liters) water to boil in a large pot. Add noodles, stir and cook according to package instructions.

When the noodles are done, place in colander and rinse with cold water. This will prevent them from turning into a sticky mess. Place drained noodles in a large bowl. Toss with toasted sesame oil and set aside..

For the stir-fry, heat wok or heavy pan on high heat and add 1 tablespoon of natural sesame or olive oil. Add ginger and garlic and fry for one minute, stirring constantly. Add vegetables, except for spring onions and coriander, stirring and tossing for about 5 minutes. Vegetables should retain their colour and a nice crunch.

Add tamari or nama shoyu, lime juice, spring onions, salt and pepper to wok. Stir once more and turn heat off. Sprinkle with coriander.

Toss in a bowl with soba noodles. Serve with sliced chicken breast on the side.

Detox Disclosure

OK, here we go. I am finally full enough to write about my (brief) venture into the detox world of the famous and beautiful. A few months ago, I picked up a copy of ‘CLEAN‘ by Dr. Alejandro Junger, curious to find out what all the rave was about. I read it and like thousands of others on the eternal quest for self-improvement hoped that this program could be the end of decade long stomach troubles and other physical and emotional aches and pains. The detox plan he developed lasts 3 weeks and is based on a strict elimination diet, with two liquid meals (i.e. fresh juices and smoothies) and one solid meal per day. The book includes 3-weeks worth of recipes, plus tips on how to clean up your life with water filters, natural cleaning and beauty products, mediation etc. Except for some of the raw soups, all recipes looked delicious, but I was still worried how I would cope with the limited calorie intake. I tried another elimination diet fora month last year and had no trouble. I could eat whenever I wanted,  as long as I stuck to the foods allowed. This was different. The prospect of only eating once a day was horrifying. To put it mildly, I am not a pleasant hungry person. Still, the author made it sounds quite easy to cope with hunger and cravings and he described the benefits of the detox program so convincingly, that I just needed to give it a go. I couldn’t wait to be bright eyed, full of boundless energy, light and tight, free of aches and pains, happier than ever, and totally clean. So I jumped in. The first few days were easy. I had just gotten over a vicious stomach bug that had been knocking out every member in my family and my appetite had not yet recovered. I wasn’t very hungry until day 4. That’s when it hit me. Tired from a night listening to my youngest cough, I was completely depleted by 9 am and alternately screamed and cried throughout the rest of the day. The mood swings didn’t even come close to my worst PMS ever and lasted for 2-3 days, leaving me totally exhausted. Instead of looking and feeling better, my face looked sunken in and pimply and my eyes dark and hollow. That said, I did start to feel better by day 6 or 7 and my mood and stamina improved. However, I continued to have very little energy, and found it difficult to get through the (long) days. Cooking dinner for my family, which I wasn’t able to eat, was no fun and drinking my juice while they ate, excruciating.  Often, I was too hungry and tired to join in, or too busy focusing on cleaning that darn juicer. And there were the side effects. For the first few days, I was so tired climbing up the stairs, my heart almost jumped out of my chest. Most infuriatingly, I couldn’t keep up with the requirements of my daily life and I felt like everything was piling up around me. I had slowed down substantially, probably to save the little energy I had to get me through the day which becaome obvious by growing laundry piles, dying garden plants and endless to-do-lists. This is not how it was supposed to be. The detox program emphasizes on rest, meditation, mindfulness exercises, yoga, meditation, skin brushing and other beneficial activities, which on most days, I didn’t have time for. On the up side, I have never lost weight so quickly and indeed I didn’t have any stomach pains. During the second week, I started to slip. My daughter had her 4th Birthday, my son a big event at school with delicious food all around, we had date nights and dinner parties and I started to obsess about chocolate and crunchy granola for hours. So, 13 days into the detox, I stopped. Not gradually, but with a beautiful dinner of the best roast chicken ever. I devoured it and couldn’t sleep that night, because I was incredibly full. My stomach had actually shrunk so much, that even a regular size meal made it expand to the point of great discomfort. Eventually, I got over it and successfully stretched my stomach to it’s previous capacity. It has however been 10 days since I stopped, and I still eat, cook and bake, like someone who just escaped from a deserted island, reversing that miraculous weight loss almost instantly.  Teaching a class focused on lunch boxes last week didn’t help either. I cooked, and assembled for days, tasting myself through every batch. Occupational hazard, I guess…

In hindsight, I keep thinking that I need to evaluate the role food plays in my life a bit more. Why did the thought of having to limit myself for 3 weeks cause me so much anguish? I was never that hungry, it was my mind that played the tricks on me, but also my body not allowing me to keep up the pace my current life requires. I do think, this could easily work for me in a spa setting without the kids, dog, husband and daily work load. It might even be enjoyable. Lot’s of time to read, sleep, relax, exercise, meditate and not having to worry about others and have them worrying about me. Since that’s not really an option at the moment, I’ll continue to incorporate some of the delicious detox recipes into my diet, drink my smoothies, take my probiotics, have an occasional day of juice fasting and even meditate once in a while. It might not have the same results as a full detox program, but it also won’t be nearly as hard.

Two weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to talk about this experience in my ‘Spring Cleaning’ class attended by 5 eager ladies. We talked, drank lots of detox tea and fresh juices and cooked so much that by the end, the table was bulging with salads, stir-fries, steamed vegetables, quinoa, buckwheat noodles, brown rice, beans, poached chicken and roast fish. It made the detox look like a total culinary breeze and all five of them left inspired by how tasty healthy food can be. You can find out more about the recipes in my next blog or at http://www.wholeliving.com/photogallery/action-plan-week-1.