Archive for the ‘Japanese’ Category

Ate Days a Week

In Beans, Bread, Breakfast, Brunch, Challenge, Fruit, Healthy Lifestyle, Holiday, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Nuts, Oats, Party, Pasta, Pizza, Quick Meal, Rice, Salad, Saving Money, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on February 24, 2015 at 7:04 pm

When it comes to healthy eating, I find there is a fine line between two philosophies: 1)Variety is the spice of life and 2)Consistency is key.  How does one stay in balance without getting bored of the same 10 meal repertoire?  When it comes to diversification, I’m always looking for inspiration.  I often look at healthy eating blogs/sites, fitness magazines, and even get sucked into the articles on the latest celebrity eating crazes.  There are definitely common trends (who else is sick of seeing kale everywhere?), but there is also a lot of differing and conflicting information.  Some people eat the same exact breakfast and lunch every day because it helps them stay on track, while others will cave into candy if they have another egg white fritata.


Could you eat THIS every day?

Where do my habits fall on this spectrum?  It’s kind of hard to say.  There have been weeks where I definitely fall into the same lunch rut, and others where I order take out every night.  It really depends on what else is going on that hour/meal/day/week/etc.  In an effort to better answer this question, I decided a couple of weeks ago to keep a log of my food/water/alcohol intake every day for 7 days.  This practice helped me to reflect more accurately on my habits and identify trends, which is something I hadn’t done in several years.  Back in my days of working with a personal trainer, I had been required to turn in a nutrition log at the beginning of each session, which gave me so much anxiety.  If I was honest about every morsel, I’d get ripped apart for having even one cookie, even if the other 98% of my intake was perfect.   I would end up omitting anything that I knew was “inconstant” and veering away from my “goals”, just to avoid the wrath of someone who subsisted on protein shakes, whey, and hardly any fresh fruits or vegetables.



It’s been a long time since I’ve followed any sort of “diet” or meal plan, so this time I took a different approach to the journaling process.  I didn’t focus exclusively on calories, macronutrients, or obsessively counting and measuring.  While I did note approximate amounts (I have a very good sense of portions and volumes, so that’s how I was able to quantify all the ingredients), I didn’t use any measuring devices (scale/cup/calculator), except when required by a recipe (baking).    I just wanted to get a sense of 1)the main components of my meals, 2)some idea of ratio (is the meal 1/2 veggies, 1/4 each protein/carb), 3)how often/frequently I eat, 4)what kind and how often I was having alcohol and “treats”, and how 5)much water I was consuming.  For water, I used the same size glass throughout the day (usually a 17 oz size, which I’d note as 2 cups), and I didn’t include cooking water.  I also noted times I ate/drank to understand the frequency better.

Here’s a high level overview, which I’ll follow with more details and pics.  This particular week had a busy weekend (Valentine’s Day, birthday parties, 2 big family dinners), so it’s an example of more splurging than usual.

  • Breakfast is the most consistent, usually some combination of protein (eggs or yogurt) with whole grain (oats) and lots of veggies
  • Lunch is usually leftovers or a simple salad
  • Dinner is the most varied, usually freshly cooked, and has carb heavy options for the other members of my family
  • I’ll have 1-3 in between meal snacks or bites
  • I drink a minimum 12 cups of water a day, but usually 16+ (especially on days I exercise).  This equates to about a cup/hour.
  • 1-2 glasses of wine 4 times a week; 1 night of cocktails.  None of that bothers me. 🙂
  • A piece or two of chocolate 3x; ice cream 1x
  • During the week, frequency is 2-3 hours; Weekend eating frequency is less, but more indulgent

That’s the basic gist of the week’s trends.  Some of you may want more information, the same way I look at other blogs as I mentioned earlier.  For those who want more details, here they are, along with some photos when I remembered to take them.

  • Monday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 530: 2 cups water before/during barre workout
    • 7 am grande coffee w 1 oz milk
    • 7:45 am: 2 cups water; porridge – 1/2 cup oats, 2 cups water, 1.5 cups kale, 1 tsp miso, 2 eggs, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
      • 2 more cups water btwn meals
    • 11:15 Carob spirulina energy bite (1)
    • 12:30 pm: 2 cups water; salad of 3 celery stalks, 1 small gala apple, 1/3 cup chickpeas, lemon juice; 1 brown rice cake with 1/3 avocado and 1/2 oz sharp cheddar
      • 2:30 2 cups water
    • 3:15 whole wheat banana nut bread
      • 4:30 2 cups water
    • 6:00 low fat string cheese 1 cup water
    • 7:15 2 cups water; whole wheat pasta with honeynut squash olives capers and almonds (1 cup)
      • 1 cup water after dinner





Whole Wheat Banana Bread




My itty portion.

  • Tuesday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 8:30 am: 2 cups water
    • 9:00 – pancake (1.5 eggs, 6 tbsp oats, 3 tbsp nonfat Greek yogurt, 1.5 cups flower sprouts [like kale]). 2 cups water
      • 10: stroller strides (interval full body workout) 2 cups water during workout
    • 11: 3/4 cup Greek yogurt with 1 tsp pb 3/4 apple and cinnamon
    • 11:30 – grande coffee w 1 oz milk
    • 1:00 pm – 2 cups water; 1 whole wheat pizza slice with broccoli and spinach topping
      • 2:45 – 2 cups water
      • 4:15 – 2 cups water
    • 5:15 – 1.5 clementine 10 raw almonds
    • 6:15 : 2 cups water, 3 bell pepper slices
    • 7:30 2 cups water. 2 (really big) glass red wine. 1/3 cup sprouted brown rice, 1/3 cup mushroom stroganoff, 1/2 cup roasted sugar snap peas in 1 tsp Evoo, 1 small bell pepper stuffed w 1/2 cup chickpeas w lemon zest and juice; 2 choc truffle

Pancake with a hot sauce smile.


Yogurt parfait.


  • Wednesday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 9:15 am 2 cups water
    • 9:30 – smoothie (3/4 cup Greek yogurt, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup blueberries, 1.5 cups broccoli, 1/4 cup oats, 1 tbsp pb, 1/2 cup water, vanilla and cinnamon)
      • 10:30 2 cups water
    • 11:15 cup of coffee w splash of milk
      • 11:40 2 cups water
    • 12:15 pm 1 cup coffee
      • 1:00 2 cups water
    • 1:15 leftover snap peas stroganoff and rice, kidney beans 1/2 cup each
    • 2:45 2 cups water. 1 oz sharp cheddar
    • 5:15 thin slice whole wheat banana bread
      • 6:30 2 cups water
    • 7:00 carrot ginger coconut soup (1 cup), sesame noodles (1/2 cup brown rice quinoa pasta with pb and sesame sauce (pb, molasses, sesame oil, ginger, garlic,etc), 2 cups water, 1 piece dark chocolate w raisins and pecans
      • 10:30 2 cups water
 IMG_1089 IMG_1090


Finished smoothie.


Sautéing veggies for the soup.


Soups on!


Sesame noodles, with some modifications on this recipe:

  • Thursday
    • Water total: 14
      • 9:30 am 2 cups water
    • 10:00 1/2 cup oats, 6 oz baby spinach sautéd in 1 tsp Evoo and garlic, 2 scrambled eggs, 2 cups water
    • 10:45 2 cup coffee w splash milk
      • 12:30 pm 2 cups water
      • 1:30 2 cups water
    • 2:00 leftover carrot soup (1.5 cups) rice beans and mushroom (1/2 cup each;) 1 cup water
      • 3:00 1 cup water
      • 5:15 2 cups water
    • 6:15 2 cups water. 1 small sweet potato with skin and sprinkle cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup white beans cooked in sriracha sauce, 1 cup slaw (napa cabbage carrots onion pepper apple celery lemon juice avocado), 1 glass red wine



Leftovers. Again.




BBQ(ish) Dinner.

  • Friday
    • Water total: 17 cups
      • 5:30-7am 3 cups water before/ during barre
    • 7:00 grande coffee with splash milk
    • 8:30 2 cups water. Miso soup (1 tbsp miso w 2 cups water) with 1/2 cup leftover sprouted brown rice, 3 cups flower sprouts, 2 poached eggs, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil and hot sauce
      • 9:30 2 cups water
      • 11:15 2 cups water
    • 12:15 2 cups water. 2 cups leftover slaw w 1/2 cup kidney beans, 1 small sweet potato w sprinkle cheddar
      • 4:00 2 cups water
    • 4:30 2 clementines 15 raw almonds
      • 530 1 cup water
    • 7:00 pm – FAMILY DINNER. 1 cup water. 1/4 cup guac w 10 scoops, 2-3 oz white fish, 1/2 cup black bean, 1/2 cup cabbage, 2 margaritas. 1 piece salted caramel dark chocolate, 1 scoop vanilla ice cream
      • 10:00 2 cups water

Another take on Breakfast.


  • Saturday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 9:45 am 2 cups water
    • 10:15 2 cups water. 1/2 cup oats cooked in water, 3 oz baby spinach in 1 tsp Evoo, 1/3 avocado, 1 tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds
      • 11:00 am – 1:00 pm 4 cups water before/during/after barre
    • 1:00 pm grande coffee splash of milk
    • 2:30 pm salad w romain eggplant roasted red pepper cucumber tomato chick peas fresh mozzarella 1 tbsp vinaigrette, 10 French fries, 5 bites broccoli cheddar omelet, 1 cup water
      • 7:00 pm 4 cups water
    • 8:30 VALENTINES. 2 glasses red wine, 5 slices baguette 1/2 inch thick,  5 crackers, cheese (3ish oz), cherry jam, 10 olives, 2 cups water
      • 1 cup water before bed

More savory oats.


VDay with my love.

  • Sunday (Busy day, no photos)
    • Water total: 12
      • 9:30 am 2 cups water
    • 10:30 am 16 oz americano w steamed milk (1/2 cup?), 1 slice whole wheat banana bread, 1 cup water
    • 12:30 pm BIRTHDAY BRUNCH PART 1. 3 cups water, 1/2 cup brown rice 1 cup sauted Chinese broccoli,  2 bites tapioca custard, 2 bites dessert bun
    • 3:30 BIRTHDAY BRUNCH PART 2.  1 cup water, 2 poached eggs, 1/2 biscuit, 1/2 cup sauted kale, 1 cup mixed green side salad, 1/2 Bloody Mary
    • 6:30. BIG FAMILY DINNER.  3 cups water, 2 glasses red wine, 1/2 cup mixed greens, 1/2 slice fresh mozzarella, 1 bite bread w butter, 1 cup whole wheat pasta w arabiata sauce, 1/2 cup green beans, 1/4 cup sauted spinach, small piece eggplant parm (3 bites), 3 bites sole oreganata
      • 9:00 pm. 2 cups water

To answer my initial question, what does all of this mean? After this experiment, I think I can say that I am consistent with adhering to the healthy habits I’ve developed over the years, all while spicing things up with twists and changes.  And even if I do indulge a smidge, I don’t have to worry about hiding it from anyone, because I don’t consider it something off limits.  How else do you expect me to muster up the energy to cook (or chase a toddler) without a glass or two of wine?


And if you’d like to see any of the recipes from this week, comment and let me know.  They could be included in a future post.


Don’t Throw That Out!

In Beans, CSA, Flexitarian, Japanese, Meat and Pultry, Mexican, Rice, Saving Money, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables on July 17, 2012 at 12:08 pm

I hate to waste, especially with food.  Maybe it’s from years of hearing my Great-Depression era grandmother say “eat everything on your plate.”  Or perhaps it’s from watching the starving children in those commercials you can feed for 25 cents a day.  Along with  several other motivators,  I strive to use every inch of food I buy.  I’m not perfect, but I’ve definitely found some ways to get creative.  Especially with my CSA produce.  I was able to stretch out the “scraps” from three items this past week and turn them into delicious meals!  This includes pods from peas, stems from broccoli, and greens from beets.  Let’s take a look.

I got about a quart worth of peas in a pod last week.  One doesn’t normally find these too often.  Usually people use frozen or canned peas, but the fresh kind are the best!  You can eat them raw as a snack or in a salad.  After I spent a good 15 or so minutes shelling the peas, I reserved the pods to potentially use in a stir fry (like I would use snow peas).  When the day came that I planed to make said stir fry, I found out Nick had Thai food for lunch, so I wanted to make something completely different.  That’s how this recipe was invented.  It still has an East Asian flair, but it’s a soup instead of a stir fry.

Ginger Lime Pea Pod Soup

Makes about 8 cups (4-6 servings)

1 quart peas in pod, shelled and separated
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium or 1/2 large onion, chopped (reserve some for garnish)
2 tbsp minced ginger
2 tsp EVOO
3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
3 cups water
1 tbsp chickpea miso paste (or miso of your choice)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 lime, zest and fruit

I had shelled the peas in advance, so I was able to start chopping the pods right away.  I also chopped the celery, onion, and ginger.

In a large pot, I added the EVOO and chopped veggies, allowing them to saute for 3 or 4 minutes just to get a little bit of the raw bite out of them.

I added the broth and water, and brought to a boil.  Then I added the chickpeas.  I combined 2 tbsp of the hot broth with the miso paste so that I could easily incorporate the latter.  I also added the sea salt.

I lowered the soup to medium-low to simmer for 20 minutes.  Then I added the zest of the lime to the pot.  Then I peeled the skin so I could use the fruit.  I know that sounds weird, but trust me you get a lot of flavor that way.  Plus, you don’t have to juice several limes, which helps to stretch out what you have some more!

I added those wedges to the pot.

After cooking another 2 minutes, I turned off the heat so I could use my immersion blender.  Once everything was smooth and incorporated, I added the fresh peas to gently cook for 5 minutes.

Then it was time to serve!

The soup had a really nice bite to it!  Tart from the lime, spicy from the ginger, and crunchy from the peas.  It was great both hot and chilled.  I even added a dollop of soft goat cheese to it later on, which was an amazing addition.

Now let’s move on to the other ingredients I mentioned:  Broccoli stems and beet greens.  I’ve used the stems before in slaw, and the greens for a salad.  Both occurrences were raw, which render a truer taste and texture.  Nick isn’t a fan of certain tastes and textures.  This is when I have to get really creative (i.e. sneaky).  The best trick I’ve learned is to chop any less-desired veggies into tiny pieces and mix them with other veggies.  That way it’s really hard to pick out the ones you don’t like, and you end up eating everything.  Case in point, enchiladas.  I had leftover pumpkin seed mole sauce, so this was a perfect way to use up the leftovers.  You can refer back to the original enchilada post for details, but here are the ingredients I used:


1 cup zucchini
1 yellow pepper
1 small green pepper
1/2 large onion
Stems of 2 bunches broccoli, cut into match sticks
1/2 bunch beet greens (about 3 cups chopped)


I didn’t measure them out, but I’d guess about 1/2 tsp of each (except Cayenne).

Ancho chili powder
Onion powder
Garlic powder

I sauteed all the veggies (except greens) for 5 minutes, and then added all the spices.  Then I folded in the greens.

I added about 1/2 a cup of vegetable broth to deglaze.  I used a similar method with chicken breast (to add to Nick’s enchiladas).

I rolled up the enchiladas, topped with mole and low fat cheddar, and baked for 20 minutes at 350.  I served the enchiladas with some black beans and leftover brown rice.  I try to make a bunch of rice at a time, and then stretch it out by reheating with some broth.  You can do the same with leftover rice from Chinese take-out.  Money and time saver!

I just had the veggies and beans with some mole sauce and a sprinkle of cheese.  Without the cheese, this is a really good vegan dish!  Look at how the stems from the beet greens turned the veggies a lovely ruby hue.

Not only was I able to use all the veggie scraps, I was also able to use up all the mole, rice, and a lot of the tortillas I had on hand.  Next time you think of throwing out any of those, don’t.  Make one of these recipes instead!

Carroll Gardens Farmer’s Market

In American, Challenge, Chinese, Flexitarian, Italian, Japanese, Meat and Pultry, Pasta, Potato, Quick Meal, Rice, Salad, Shopping, Vegetables, Vegetarian on July 3, 2012 at 1:19 pm

This past weekend was another by-week for my CSA share.  I still had a few things left (snap peas, bok choy, escarole, and a lil’ chard), but knew I’d have no time during the week to pick up more veggies once I ran out.  I spent all day Saturday shopping at the local boutiques (hooray for summer sales!) and ended with dinner and a movie.  Then came Sunday, and I made me way over to my neighborhood farmer’s market.  It’s funny how rarely I go there, even though it is only a 5 minute walk away.  After breakfast, I went with Nick at about 11:00 AM.  I love when he comes with me, because I get direct feedback from my primary consumer!  It was so hot, though, that it felt like being in a green house every time we went under one of the tents.  His feedback ended up being short and to the point.

I really need a better camera, because my flash is either super bright or non-existent.

There were so many options, it was hard to edit myself!  I bought veggies from 4 different vendors, as well as honey to help with Nick’s allergies.  I’ve heard that having a little bit really helps with outdoor allergies, so when I saw it was from Red Hook, I jumped on it!  The joke was on me, though, because Red Hook is also a town upstate, not just in Brooklyn.  Doh!

Here’s the list of veggies:

2 bunches beets (they were on sale 2/$5)
1 head green leafy lettuce ($3)
3 lbs small potatoes ($6)
4 small eggplant (About 1/5th of a lb – wish there were more, but they sold out!) ($1)
1 bunch French radishes (only $1.50)
6 green house tomatoes ($4.10)
3 zucchini
1 striped zucchini
4 small bunches broccoli ($4.80 for all the zucchini and broccoli)
1 box zucchini blossoms ($7)

About $32.50 for all of that!  Much more than I’d normally spend, but I intended using the potatoes for a BBQ, and the zucchini blossoms are a treat.  I am determined to make them without breading and/or deep frying, but we will see…

I got home and washed everything up, fit in a workout, and then headed out to a friend’s birthday brunch.  It was so hot in there!  Their AC was non-existent, and the thermostat read 95 degrees!  We were all ready to leave once the plates were cleared.  Nick and I went to visit some friends after, and they were making some zucchini for their dinner.  I decided when we got home to do the same, so I sauteed 3 zucchini with sundried tomato, the rest of the swiss chard, some garlic, and sprinkled in some truffled pecorino.

I added it to some whole wheat penne.

I had also made a salad with the lettuce from the market, some tomato, chopped olives, feta, and balsamic vinegar (no picture).  Super yummy as well!

The next day was nice and cool, so I decided to get a lot of cooking in!  I made Ina Garten’s Dill Potato salad for an upcoming BBQ.  It’s really delicious, but I only make it to bring out to other places, lest my hubby and I eat 3 whole lbs of potatoes in one sitting!

Dill Potato Salad

Adapted from Ina Garten

3 pounds small white potatoes
Kosher salt
1 cup mayonnaise (I used light)
1/4 cup buttermilk (I used 3/4 tsp vinegar with 1/4 cup-3/4 tsp of skim milk)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery (I used 1 full cup)
1/2 cup chopped red onion (I used 1 full cup)

I cut up the potatoes before boiling, although the recipe says to cut them after cooking.  I brought the pot to a boil, then simmered for 10 minutes.  While boiling, I combined everything else except the celery and onion for the dressing.

After 10 minutes, I drained the potatoes into a colander, then placed the colander over the hot pot and covered with a kitchen towel to steam for 20 minutes.  I also chopped up the onion and celery.

I combined the potatoes, dressing, and celery/onion.  They are currently marinating in my fridge, so I don’t have a photo yet.

Later for dinner, I made a salad with lettuce, tomato, avocado, and carrot ginger dressing.


I also made a stir fry.  I used Bok Choy, striped zucchini, baby eggplant, snow peas, broccoli, scallion, onion, and ginger.

I made my own sauce using low sodium soy, mirin, red chili paste, vegetable broth, and corn starch.

I made some brown rice and mirin chicken to go with it.

I wanted to make myself seitan, but mine had expired.  Boo!!!!

I still have a bunch of stuff left for the week, but I’m glad I do because all my stuff from last week is gone (except the escarole, which I may end up throwing out)!  So far I used half the broccoli, all the zucchini, eggplant and potatoes, and almost all of the tomatoes and lettuce.  Very excited with all my beets, and those zucchini blossoms will be an exciting challenge.  Hope you all have a great Independence Day!  I plan on celebrating by making anything BUT American food.

Ramen for Grown-ups

In Chinese, Japanese, Pasta, Quick Meal, Salad, Soup, Vegetables on June 27, 2012 at 12:58 pm

I’m sure at some point in your life you’ve all gone through a ramen noodle phase – 10 packages for 1 buck fits any student or non-for-profit professional’s budget.  I experienced ramen overload in elementary and junior high school.  It was one of the very few things I could cook without making a mess or burning the house down.  My sister and I would take turns or work together to make the soup, and it was a great after school snack.  Once I could actually understand labels and ingredients, I started to shy away from ramen, cup of noodles, or any other packaged noodle soup that had a flavor packet included.  As an adult, I still can’t really stand ramen, even if it’s at a restaurant.  I find that it’s even saltier than its packaged version, and I feel so bloated and thirsty after, and then an hour later I’m still hungry.

One soup I still like is egg drop soup.  Chemicals and MSG aside, it’s a pretty filling appetizer.  I used to order it frequently with my Chinese delivery, but after confirming that every place uses chicken broth I’ve stopped.  Since then, I’ve learned to make it on my own!  It’s even better than delivery, in my opinion, and much healthier, too.  If you add noodles and/or dumplings, it can become a meal all on its own!  Just remember to add some veggies in there.  Since it had rained Monday, the kitchen was cool enough to make some of this soup for dinner.  Luckily I still had some Pok Choy left on its last limb, and a fresh bunch of Bok Choy, so I had plenty of material to create a well balanced one-pot meal.

Egg Drop Soup with Bok Choy, Udon, and Dumplings

Serves 4 as an appetizer, 2 as a main

1 quart (32 oz) vegetable broth (chicken broth if not vegetarian)
1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tsp ginger, minced
2 cup tightly packed chopped Bok Choy (or other greens like collards, napa cabbage, watercress, etc)
2 tsp corn starch
1 egg + 2 egg whites, lightly beaten

Cooked noodles (I used whole wheat udon) and dumplings (I used both shrimp and chicken gyoza for Nick)

I boiled some water for the udon noodles, and cooked them according to the box.  During that time, I worked on the soup.

I brought the broth to a boil, and added the soy sauce, scallions, ginger, and Pok Choy (what I had left over from last week).

After about 5 minutes, I spooned out about a tbsp of liquid to mix with the corn starch.

I whisked them together with a fork until it formed a creamy consistency.

I added the mixture to the soup pot, and mixed with a wooden spoon.  Then I let the soup boil a little bit more to thicken, and lightly scrambled the eggs.  Adding the eggs to the pot requires some patience; you have to slowly stream it in and mix the broth with a spoon in the other hand.  Otherwise, the eggs clump up and you don’t get that streamed result.

If you’re gonna make the dumplings, I’d advise cooking them in the noodle pot.  Just add them 2 minutes before the udon is done.  If you try to add them to the soup pot and THEN stir in the eggs, your dumplings will break up into the soup, and that’s no fun.

To serve, spoon in some soup, and then add in as many noodles and dumplings as you’d like.

I also served a simple salad of red leafy lettuce from this week’s share with Japanese carrot ginger dressing.

You can also omit either/or if you’re just diggin’ the broth.  I sometimes prefer just the simple version, smothered with sriracha.  Or, if I’m lucky, I’ve still got some packets of red hot sauce from take out.  Then I’m happier than a school girl with her 10 cent ramen.

Fishing for Compliments

In Japanese, Rice, Salad, Vegetables on March 22, 2012 at 3:39 pm

I aim to please.  Don’t we all?  I especially love creating a meal that satisfies even the most sophisticated and particular palates.  I know how hard it is to find adequate cuisine for myself, let alone a superb experience, so I strive to “do unto others” as I would want done unto me.  It makes the rave reviews even that much more enthralling.

Two New Years Eve parties ago, we had an East Asian theme (last year’s was Italian).  One of the main courses was salmon teriyaki, which everyone loved.  In fact, there were no pieces of salmon leftover, but the General Tso’s chicken sadly had some pieces remaining by 4 AM.  People kept asking me how I made it.  My big secret was a bottled sauce made by San-J that I used all the time during the year.  My other big secret was using wild caught Atlantic salmon.

A couple weeks ago, I was chatting with a friend about what she should eat for dinner after her spin class, and we decided that she should get sushi.  All that talk about raw fish got me in the mood for some salmon.  I rarely eat fish, but when I’m in the mood for it I treat myself, and usually to the wild caught varieties.  I mean who can resist a bagel with lox, cream cheese, and all the fixin’s?  I would be a very bad Jew and make G-d very sad.

After work I stopped by the fish store and selected a lovely piece of wild Atlantic salmon.  It was the perfect reddish-orange hue, and it could have served well in a  ceviche or even sashimi style.  I also popped into the health food store across the street to procure some veggies for stir-frying, as well as some salad ingredients.  Then it was homeward bound and off to work!

On a flesh-dedicated cutting board, I cut the fish into 1 inch cubes, and placed them in a large ziplock bag.  Using about half the bottle of teriyaki, I poured the sauce over the salmon, zipped up the bag, gave it a little shake, and placed in the fridge to marinate for 30 minutes.

I pulled out my rice cooker, added some brown rice and water, and set it off while I preheated the oven to 350 and chopped up some veggies.  I started with some onion, garlic, and two kinds of bell pepper.

I had bought a bunch of colorful carrots that day, so I opted for one of the purple variety.

Then I sliced it up on a slight angle.  The insides are kind of orange, so it’s a twofer.

Using my large wok, I added about 2 teaspoons of toasted sesame oil, and all of the previously mentioned veggies.

I used my microplane to finely mince the garlic and add to the wok.

While those sauteed, I sliced up some zucchini and yellow squash.

I also washed and dried some snow peas.  Then added both to the wok.

I poured the contents of the salmon ziplock into a roasting pan, and covered the pan with tin foil to cook for 15 minutes in the 350 degree oven.

When it was done, it looked like this.

During the cooking time, I danced between stir-frying and chopping salad veggies.  I used tomato, pepper, and avocado.  I wanted to use cucumber but they all looked grossly huge (i.e. they had tons of slimy seeds).

When the stir-fry was all browned to perfection, I added some mirin, low sodium soy sauce, and vegetable broth to create a mild sauce.

All I had left to do with the salad was place the chopped veggies over some mixed greens, and top the salad with some ginger dressing.  Jo’s brand is the closest tasting store-bought variety to a restaurant’s version.

Since everything was ready at the same time, I decided to serve the salad on the same plate as the main course.  It actually looked really good, almost like a bento box.

Here’s a little bit more of a close-up.  This was Nick’s plate.  Mine had no rice :(.

The fish was actually really tasty, and it melted in my mouth.  I had just enough for leftovers for moi the next day, which was all I needed for my sporadic fish-fix.  Until the next bagel and a schmear.

Soup for One

In Japanese, Soup, Sweet Potato, Vegetables on November 22, 2011 at 6:33 pm

I know that title sounds really sad.  It’s actually awesome though, because I could have a whole pot of soup all to myself 🙂

The magic of soup is that it can contain anything!  As long as you’ve got running water, you’ve got soup.  If you’re fortunate enough to have some luxurious ingredients like stock or milk, it will taste even better.  I always stock up on broth (especially when on sale), just for nights like this one.  Nick went to the Giants game, and I had a busy weekend of gallivanting and doing chores, so I wanted something simple.  I decided on a winter squash soup.  Normally I’ll add tons of root veggies, like parsnips and rutabagas, as well as a whole bunch of aromatics and of course winter squash!  However, I am only using the veggies I got from this week’s CSA share.  I had carnival squash, sweet potato, onion, garlic, carrots, and turnips.  The parsley from the prior week’s share would add a nice fresh garnish at the end.

The kabocha version of this soup is actually a very traditional Macrobiotic dish, because it relies on seasonal foods that are very subtle and uses hardly any seasoning. I prefer to make this with either butternut or kabocha, simply because they are easier to peel.  That way you can just dice up and add straight to the pot.  This squash, however, has tons of ridges.  The only solution was to cut up into strips, bake, and peel skin off when finished.  This is the before.

Once it was done, I let it cool and then peeled off the skin.

While the squash baked, I peeled all the peelable veggies.

Then I chopped those and the rest of the veggies up.

I added them to the pot with some veggie broth, salt, pepper, and thyme, and brought to a boil.

After I peeled the squash, I added it to the pot.

I let it incorporate a few minutes more, and then turned the heat off for immersion blending!  I love this gadget.  It saves so much time.

You can puree the soup to be as smooth or chunky as you like.  I prefer it 98% smooth, just so I can see a couple pieces of the other veggies.  Look how bright and cheerful the pot looks!

I topped my soup with some chopped parsley.  Nick had it the next day with bacon.  You could go for a Thai feel and use coconut milk and curry, or a Mexican theme with chili powder or hot sauce.  On days when I’m hungrier, I may pair it with a grilled cheese or vegan BLT.

I’ve already had the leftovers today and yesterday.  Yesterday I added in some black beans and collard greens, which made it a really hearty complete meal.  Today I switched the black beans for chickpeas, which helped to keep the color integrity intact.

How do you makeover your leftovers?

Meatless Macrobiotic Monday

In Beans, Japanese, Rice, Vegetables on November 8, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Is it totally “jump-on-the-bandwagon”ish to succumb to the Meatless Monday Movement?  I try to make every night meatless, and last night was ACTUALLY an exception.  Nick really wanted some chicken for dinner, so I improvised and made some just for him.  Otherwise, the meal was PETA approved!

My favorite Vegan book/cookbook is Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet.  It is full of information about veganism, tons of pretty pictures, and really delicious recipes.  She and her husband are also pictured in the book, and they are both really pretty to look at.  The book maps out 3 phases for transition into an ideal vegan macrobiotic diet.  I’ve been through 1 and 2, but never fully through 3.  However, I have tried some of the more macrobiotic recipes from that phase.  One of them is Azuki Beans with Kabocha Squash.  Before I read this book, I had no idea what either of those foods were.  Azuki beans are little red beans that are sometimes used to make desserts (READ: Red bean ice cream).  Kabocha squash is a type of winter squash, sometimes called Japanese pumpkin.  It is sweeter than butternut squash, but similar color/shape to acorn squash.  Nonetheless, you can also make this dish with any kind of winter squash.  I decided to use my sweet dumpling squash from my CSA share.

I’ve read mixed advice about the soaking/cooking process for azuki beans.  I decided out of laziness to not soak them, but just made sure to add enough water while cooking.  I also tore up some kombu, a sea vegetable that helps to reduce flatulence.  Once it was up to a boil, I tried to skim some of the foam and then reduced the heat to let simmer.

While the beans cooked away, I prepped the squash by cutting in half to remove the seeds.  Then I chopped up into bite size pieces.  I left the skin on.  It looks so pretty.

I also toasted some sesame seeds and prepped some brown rice.  Brown rice, and whole grains in general, are a big part of a macrobiotic diet, as well as eating seasonable vegetables, and limited processed foods, sugars, and spices.  It is really hard to not uses spices, but the brown rice I can deal with.

I put the squash into the bean pot, added some more water, and let it cook another 20ish minutes.  During that time, I chopped up the broccoli and trimmed the mizuna (see, told you I’d use it) for the stir fry.

I reluctantly prepped Nick’s chicken.  I used the pan from the seeds, so as not to contaminate my wok.  I browned the chicken in toasted sesame oil, and was done with it.


started to saute the garlic in some sesame oil, then added the broccoli.  After a few minutes, I added some chili pepper paste, and then deglazed with Umebashi vinegar and some shoyu (high quality soy sauce).  Then at the end, I tossed in the mizuna, and tada.

Here’s my pristine macrobiotic-ish dish.  Everything is so yummy and comforting.  I used 3 of the veggies: squash, broccoli, and mizuna – all in one night 🙂

I also took a picture of Nick’s plate.  He loved it.

Now, a little lesson on leftovers.  I used some of these beans and added some barley from Friday, since the barley was so flavorful.  I also sprinkled some collards in.  Last week I kept using that mole sauce to season the veggies.  This is basically what my lunch looks like most days.  I’m happy with it.

If after 3 or 4 days stuff is still left, I’ll use the freezer.  Beans and soups freeze especially well.

Until the next time, siyonara!

Miso Hungry, Me Love You Fungi

In Japanese, Quick Meal, Seitan, Soup, Vegetables on November 3, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Today was a good day.  Healthy, productive, and economical.  I woke up early, rode the machine, ate a hearty whole grain breakfast, made and brought in coffee from home, had leftovers, and accomplished a lot of catching up at work.  Let me tell you, by the time I got home, I was HUNGRY.

Nick mentioned earlier this week he may be going out on a man-date with his friend John for steak tonight.  I waited in anticipation as the plans were solidified.  This meant a) I could make and eat whatever I want and b) I could watch as much reality TV as my yenta heart desired.

I had some seitan in the fridge that was closely approaching expiration, and I really wanted to use it.  For those of you who don’t know what that is, it is Satan’s hippie cousin.  It is a loaf made from wheat gluten and mixed with some spices and soy sauce.  It is often used (or a similar version of it) in vegetarian restaurants as a meat substitute.  It is very high in protein, and has a similar texture to chicken.  Nick hates it and refuses to eat it.  I love it because unfortunately I’ve developed an intolerance to tofu and other highly concentrated soy products, so it’s great when I get a lil sick of beans.

Since I was so hungry, I wanted to make something quick.  I decided on soup.  As I mentioned, soy is no longer my best friend.  As a result, I can’t even eat miso soup from a regular Japanese restaurant because they use traditional soy based miso.  One day, I was browsing the tofu/seitan section at the healthfood store,  sadly staring at all the amazing miso pastes.  And then, I found it!  Chick pea miso paste that is soy-free.

While serendipitously channel surfing and finding The Breakfast Club on cable, I gathered all the other ingredients to make my soup.  I love that Claire brought in sushi for lunch; it so matched my theme! Carrots, celery, scallions, broccoli, mushrooms, kale, and wakame flakes (dried seaweed used in miso soup) make the dish complete.

Now, I just want to preface the rest of this post with a note about my friend who gave me some constructive criticism today.  He said I need a) more sass and b) more pictures.  I hope you’ll be pleased with all the photographic inserts!

I first thinly sliced up the carrots, celery, and scallions.  Then, I cut up a few florets of broccoli.  Then I scrubbed the mushrooms with a wet paper towel and sliced them up.  The thinner the pieces are, the quicker they cook.




I brought 3 cups of water to a boil, then added all these ingredients.  Then I sliced up some seitan, adding it to the pot, plus 1/2 tsp wakame flakes.





Once that came to a boil, I took out a couple of teaspoons of the broth to mix with the miso paste.  Then I reduced the heat, covered, and let simmer for 5ish minutes.  During that time, I chopped a kale leaf very tiny, and then I mixed the miso paste with the water until it was creamy.





Now for the magic….I added in the dissolved miso, sprinkled in and kale, and let it sit one minute.  During the cooking time, the wakame became HUGE.  It reminds me of those toys you’d soak in water and they’d became real sized toys.  Only you can actually eat these treats!  I should have put them side by side so you could see the difference.





I spooned in half of my soup, and watched some brat packers get high and say cliche 80s verbiage.  I watched them dance, and admired their shoes.  I love how all that fashion is back in effect.  I looked down at my empty bowl, hearing the words of Simple Minds – “Don’t you forget about me[so]”.  This reminded me of the other half of the soup I made, which prompted me for a refill.

One more dinner left until this challenge is over.  May the Schwartz be with me!