Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Paleo Chef: Quick, Flavorful Paleo Meals for Eating Well

This is one of the cookbooks I've been anxiously waiting for this year.  For such a highly acclaimed book, I was was rather disappointed.  Since I own most of Pete Evans' books (My Kitchen, My Grill, My Party, Cook with Love, and Pizza) I was expecting the same caliber as the other ones.  This book does feature many wholesome, healthy recipes but they lack creativeness and flavor. Many recipes are taken from his other books but ingredients adapted to the Paleo diet. If you are looking for new food ideas, this is definitely not the one. There were many filler recipes such as nori chips, sweet potato fries, kale chips, sauerkraut, cauliflower fried rice, and ice pop.

For the recipes that I tried, I found a few issues with them. The nasi goreng cauliflower rice didn’t hold up in the cooking process and became quite mushy, the flavor profile of the Vietnamese chicken wings was off, and the chicken curry had okra and spinach which tasted really strange in a curry. The recipes that I did enjoy include scrambled eggs with smoked trout and kale, black chia seed puddings, and apple-berry crumble.

Overall this book is a great way to learn about the Paleo diet and understand better ingredient choices like coconut oil, ghee, and raw honey instead of olive oil, butter, and sugar but it lacks inventiveness. After poring over the book, I only found a handful of recipes that interested me.  

*I received this book to review complementary of the publisher

Friday, January 23, 2015

Vietnamese sticky wings

Today we’re sharing our favorite chicken wings recipe.  Marinated with fish sauce and garlic, then deep fried and smothered in a caramelized sauce, they are finger licking good.  This dish was inspired by the salted chili crispy chicken wings at Vu’s uncle’s restaurant Long Provincial in Seattle.  Vu’s uncle, Tam, was so excited to share these wings with us when they first appeared on the menu.  We finally understood his excitement after inhaling a whole plate of wings in less than five minutes.  Yes, we inhaled them.  How we didn’t choke was a miracle to me.  The wings were the epitome of umami.  

For us, these wings are more than a treat, they bring back fond memories of Seattle.  During my first year pharmacy residency, I looked forward to our monthly trek from Spokane to Seattle to spend time with family and to indulge in Vietnamese food.  If you’ve been to Spokane, you know that Vietnamese cuisine or Asian cuisine in general is missing from the food scene.  By the time we got to Seattle, it would be 10 or 11 pm, and we were beyond starving.  Instead of grabbing something from a fast food restaurant during our drive, we saved our tummy for the mouthwatering Vietnamese food at uncle Tam’s restaurants.  

We loved our dinners with uncle Tam, eating practically everything from the menu.  Yes we were pigs and completely guilty of gluttony.  Then again, our love for Vietnamese food runs deep and we were deprived living in Spokane.  We would stay late into the night, past the restaurant closing, devouring plate after plate of deliciousness, endless cocktails, and sharing our passion for food and pharmacy until the wee hours of the morning.  In case you’re wondering about the pharmacy part, uncle Tam’s daytime job is a pharmacist but his passion for food has transformed him into an incredibly talented businessman and restaurateur of both Long Provincial and Tamarind Tree.  These wings are our way of paying homage to uncle Tam but as much as we have experimented with the recipe, we haven’t reached the perfection of his wings.  Nevertheless, we love our version of uncle Tam’s chicken wings and hope you’ll be hooked on these umami bombs.



Vietnamese sticky wings

2 lbs of chicken wings (about 8-10 wings)
½ cup of warm water
½ cup of sugar
½ cup of fish sauce (Phu Quoc)
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
6 cloves of garlic, finely minced
½ cup of rice flour
¼ cup of cornstarch
2 tsp baking soda
vegetable oil for frying
lime wedges for garnish
green chile peppers for garnish

1. For the marinate, combine water, fish sauce, and sugar in a large bowl and whisk until sugar is completely dissolved. Add minced garlic and pepper.
2. Add the wings and toss to coat.  Cover and refrigerate overnight (at least 8 hours for the most flavor).  Turn them every 4 hours to make sure the wings are marinated evenly.
3. Drain the wings by leaving them in a colander for 10 minutes.
4. Sift rice flour, cornstarch, and baking soda in a mixing bowl.
5. In a large pot over medium heat, fill the pot to about 2 inches of oil and bring it to 350 degrees F (if you don't have a thermometer, leave it on medium heat).
6. Toss the wings, a few at a time, in flour then shake off excess flour.
7. Fry the floured wings for about 8-10 minutes, 4 minutes on each side (8 minutes for smaller wings and 10 minutes for larger wings) until golden brown.  
8. Transfer them to a tray lined with paper towel to drain off excess oil.
9. Drain the garlic pieces from the marinate and deep fry them until golden brown.  Reserve for later.
10. In a saucepan, simmer the marinate over medium-high heat until it becomes syrupy and dark golden in color, about 10-12 minutes.
11. Toss the wings in the reduced sauce. 
12. Place the wings in a serving dish, sprinkle fried garlic on top, then add lime wedges and green chiles.

*For the most flavor, let the wings marinate overnight.
*If you don't want your wings too sticky, use a brush and glaze them as much or as little as you like.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Green Goodness

We have juiced sporadically over the years and recently started juicing on a weekly basis after ditching our Jack Lalanne Juicer for the Omega Masticating Juicer.   It’s impossible for us to eat all of the recommended daily servings of vegetables and fruits so juicing has become a way to incorporate a lot more green leafy vegetables in our diet.  We enjoy juicing and think of them as a treat rather than a cure all or weight loss miracle.    

Even Aiden likes this juice even though they’re loaded with tons of greens like kale, spinach, and celery, hence the name “green goodness”.   This is the only way we sneak greens into his diet since he’s quite a picky eater.  

The apple provides s a sweet flavor that balances the harsh taste of kale, spinach, and celery.  Another immediate benefit that we have seen with this juice is Aiden’s bowel movement becoming more reqular and constipation becoming a non issue.  

Besides providing a lot of fiber, kale and spinach have high amount of vitamins (vitamins K, A, B, C, and E) as well as minerals (manganese, copper, calcium, potassium, iron, phosphorous, and magnesium) necessary for a growing toddler.  If you’re new to juicing, give this recipe a try! 

Green Goodness (makes about 1 cup)
1 cup of spinach
1 cup of kale leaves and stems
2 celery stalks
1 medium-large Fuji apple

1. Soak kale and spinach in a cold water bath for 5 minutes.  Rinse and let them dry in a colander.  Cut the kale leaves into 1 inch pieces.
2. Wash and cut both the celery and apple into 1 inch pieces.
3. Juice the spinach and kale first.
4. Juice the apple next and celery last.

*All of the vegetables and fruit for this juice are organic.  For the freshest juice and highest level of nutrient, drink juice within 24 hours.  Otherwise refrigerate your juice in a airtight glass bottles for up to 72 hours.  Weck jars and Ball mason jars work very well.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Book Review: Your Family in Pictures

I was really excited to get this book because I missed out on many photo opportunities for our son’s first year.  Me Ra Koh presented a lot of useful information about photography pitfalls and opportunities that a regular mom like myself often misses.  I appreciate her photo recipes for special events like holidays and vacations as well as regular day to day activities like breakfast, bedtime routine, and backyard fun .  It was great to see photos of other moms featured in this book.  It’s a testament to Me Ra Koh’s work in transforming seemingly normal moments into beautiful memories.  Through this book, I learned a lot of tips to capture family photo that will be cherished for many years.  I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in using photography to preserve your family stories.

*I received this book to review complementary of the publisher

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Roasted Beet Salad

Today I’m sharing one of my favorite salad recipes, roasted beets with goat cheese and pistachios.  Salad was one of the few things I could eat when I was pregnant, especially the first two trimesters.  My morning sickness was so terrible that I could barely keep anything down, especially greasy food.  Butter and animal fat were my nemesis, event just a hint of it.  Morning sickness is a misnomer by the way.  I was throwing at random times, not just the morning.  

This salad became a lunch staple.  I alternated between soft boiled eggs and poached chicken to have some protein.  Nowadays, I like these beets without any meats.  I love the combination of sweet, crunch, and tang in this salad.  So simple but satisfying.  If meat is an absolute must have, grilled chicken in a great option.  

We were lucky to have fresh beets from our garden for this salad.  If you’re on the fence about beets, I hope this dish will change your mind.

Roasted beet salad
1 bunch of red beets (3-4 beets), washed and scrubbed
1 bunch of golden beets (3-4 beets), washed and scrubbed
1 cup of young beet greens
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp honey
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tbsp shelled pistachios
2 tbsp of crumbled goat cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375˚F.
2. Trim the beet stems, leaving about ½  inch intact.  Wash and scrub the beets.  Save the young beet greens. Place on baking dish.
3. Toss beets with 1 tbsp of olive oil.  Cover dish with foil and roast the beets for about 45 minutes or until tender.
4. Remove the beets from baking dish and when cool enough to handle, peel off the skin.  Cut into medium-size wedges.
5. Place pistachios on baking tray and roast for 5 minutes.
6. In a bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, remaining olive oil, and honey.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
7. Add the beets and young beet greens to dressing and toss to coat.
8. Place beets and beet greens on plate. Scatter goat cheese and pistachios over beets.  Serve warm or at room temperature.    

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Carrots Harvest

My dad planted these carrots, dragon carrots and yellowstone carrots, at the beginning of September and we were able to enjoy them for our Christmas dinner.  Some of them came out like the typical Bugs Bunny carrots that are long, narrow, and pointed while other were odd looking.  Their shapes did not matter though.  They tasted sweet and crunchy.  The carrots were roasted, juiced, and eaten raw.  I will post our carrot recipes soon.

Cookbook Review: Clean Slate

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Clean Slate is not a diet book but rather a cookbook with a guide for eating healthy and choosing nutritious ingredients.  Clean Slate provides helpful tips for detoxing your body and resetting your health through several principles: choosing whole foods over processed, embracing a plant based diet, practicing mindful eating, engaging in an active lifestyle, eating enough fiber, boosting energy with lean protein, paying attention to how you feel by keeping a food journal, staying hydrated, planning your meals, and keeping things in moderation.  Half of the list is doable for most people.  I picked a few things to start off with.  Over time I might be able to follow eighty percent of their suggestions.  

The book also gives you a comprehensive list of food to stock your pantry and a list of smart swaps (ie. yogurt for sour cream, sweet potato for white potato, romaine lettuce for iceberg lettuce) for a cleaner diet.  I like their 3 day plan and 21 day plan for detox with accompanied menu suggestions for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  It would have been nice to see a 7 day plan and a 14 day plan but you can probably pull menu suggestions from the 21 day plan.  The plan gives you so much flexibility that you can switch things around depending on what’s available at your local supermarket or in your pantry.

So far my favorite section is breakfast since I struggle with what to make on a daily basis.  I really like the different porridge recipes that the book offers (cardamom quinoa porridge, millet with pineapple and flaxseed, black quinoa with almond and honey, coconut breakfast pudding) as well as juices and smoothies.  We juice a few times a week so it’s nice to have additional juice recipes to add to our collection.  Our toddler seemed to really like the smoothies and juice that we made for him.  The recipes for the entree section mainly focus on chicken and fish which I really appreciate since our diet consists mainly of those proteins.  The recipes are not complicated and usually takes less than half an hour to prep and about an hour to cook.  My least favorite section of the book is dessert. It only has a handful of recipes and none of them are that interesting.  Overall Clean Slate is a wonderful book with thoughtful recipes and helpful tips to kickstart your journey to a healthier way of eating.

*I received this book to review complementary of the publisher