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Challenging to photo, but delicious to eat, this easy to prepare dish has become another family favorite (like the Gado Gado salad recipe I posted earlier this week).

Loaded with flavor and fun to eat, it takes about 20 minutes,  to make–start to finish. I also love that it makes a perfect meal as is, but you can easily dress it up and make a more substantial meal by serving it with a complementary side dish. The one I show below is fresh corn with shiitake mushrooms cooked in chicken or vegetable stock.

When I make this dish, I usually split the chicken mixture into two bowls right before serving–one for the kids, and one for the adult into which I mix the red pepper flakes and a squirt of Sriracha.

 

Ingredients

3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

2 tbsp chicken broth

2 tsp cornstarch

1 tsp sugar

1 lb. ground chicken or turkey

2 tbsp avocado oil

2 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped

1 tbsp garlic, finely chopped

1/3 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, optional

1/4 cup green onion, chopped

1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

3 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

About 15 cup-shaped lettuce leaves (I use Bibb or butter lettuce), washed and dried

Cilantro sprigs for garnish

 

Preparation

Whisk together soy sauce (or tamarin), broth, cornstarch, and sugar until smooth. Place ground meat in a medium-size bowl and separate into several lumps. Pour about half the soy mixture over the meat; mix and set aside.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add oil and swirl to coat. Add ginger, garlic, and red bell pepper. Cook, stirring often, until fragrant but not browned, about 2-3 minutes. Add seasoned meat, using a wooden spoon to spread into an even layer. Let cook for 1-2 minutes or until the underside has begun to brown. Turn to cook the other side until browned; break into chunks.

Turn off heat. Add remaining soy mixture to skillet or wok. Add red pepper flakes if using, green onion, sesame oil, and cilantro. Mix well. To serve family style, serve the meat mixture in a bowl with cilantro sprigs for garnish with the lettuce leaves on a separate platter.

Enjoy!

 

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Do you sometimes get inexplicable cravings? I’m not referring to the sudden craving for a little something sweet or salty in the afternoon. I’m talking about the sudden, strong craving for a specific dish.

Well that happened to me about a month ago. I suddenly started craving Gado Gado, the common Indonesia salad of fresh vegetables, egg and peanut curry sauce. We don’t go to any Indonesian restaurants here in the Bay Area, so it’s not like I simply hadn’t been in a while and was missing a favorite dish. In fact, we typically go to an Indonesian restaurant only once a year, when we’re in Amsterdam visiting my husband’s family during the summer holiday. But we missed going this year–despite having a reservation at Kantjil in Amsterdam, since our flight from France was severely delayed. (Do not get me started on Easy Jet flight horror stories!)

The strong craving I experienced came on suddenly and would not go away. But luckily, I have a great recipe for Gado Gado that’s super easy!

This is a basic recipe (for 4) which you can modify to your liking. For example, you can substitute other vegetables, but I think this combination makes for the best in terms of taste, texture and color. The great thing about this salad is you need very little prep time, and you can often make it with ingredients you already have on hand.

 

Ingredients

1 tsp salt

1-1/2 cups green beans, trimmed

4 large organic eggs

1-1/2 cups fresh bean sprouts

1-1/2 cups radishes, trimmed and quartered

1/2 English cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices

1 package 14oz extra-firm tofu

1 tbsp cornstarch

2 tsp red curry or Madras curry powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

2 tbsp avocado oil

 

Peanut Sauce

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

3 tbsp hot water

3 tbsp fresh lime juice

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp brown sugar

2 tsp Thai red curry paste

1/4 tsp sea salt

2 tsp sambal oelek or Sriracha (optional)

 

Preparation

Place tofu on a plate layered with 2-3 paper towels. Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with water and a sprinkle of salt. Bring to a rolling boil; cover, turn off heat and let stand 12 minutes. Remove eggs from pan using a slotted spoon; rinse with cold water; peel and cut in half.

Return pan to boil; add green beans and cook 4-5 minutes or until tender-crisp. Drain; rinse with cold water; pat dry and set aside.

In the meantime, prepare the tofu. Cut the block lengthwise into four 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place the slices on 2-3 layers of paper towels on a plate. Cover with more paper towels and a plate turned upside down. Let stand at least 5 minutes. Cut cross-wise to make 1/2-inch cubes. Combine cornstarch, curry powder, and 1/4 tsp salt. Gently toss tofu to coat.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan. Add tofu and cook for 10-12 minutes or until nicely crisp and browned on all sides.

Prepare peanut sauce by whisking all sauce ingredients together. Adjust seasoning to taste. If the sauce is thicker than you want, add a little extra hot water to thin it down. Note: I leave out the samba oelek or Sriracha if it’s a family dinner since my kids don’t like things too spicy–yet.

Cut the green beans into 2-inch pieces; arrange on a platter. Arrange eggs halves, bean sprouts, radishes and cucumbers. Serve with sauce on the side. Store leftover vegetables and sauce separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator. They make a great lunch the next day!

Enjoy!

 

 

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Back from the dead–or so it would seem.

I’m sorry there haven’t been any posts in such a long time. Between work and summer travel, I struggled to find any time–other than a few Instagram pics. My family and I spent two weeks in Europe visiting friends and family and then spent an incredible two weeks in Africa. (Look for a post on that soon.)

You might think that after taking a hiatus from the blog that I would post something really elaborate or spectacular. But in reality, I want to share an unbelievably simple, but delicious recipe as I start back up with my blog.

With all I see happening in the world right now, I’m personally craving comfort, simplicity and nourishment.

Maybe you live in a part of the United States that saw the brutal force of our world’s ever-strengthening storms. Or maybe you live in a country recently targeted by terrorists. I know it’s all relative, but until the last decade, my generation has managed to avoid a lot of large-scale and widespread adversity. Now I look around at what’s happening in many regions of the world and read news reports, and find myself nearly in a state of disbelief that so much division, animosity and chaos exists.

While it may not necessarily be recommended, many of us take comfort in food. And fortunately, food remains one of the main ways in which we experience other cultures, experience camaraderie and strengthen our families and our ties with friends, so I plan to start posting a lot of simple, healthy and comforting recipes. Try this super easy cold soup, which makes a perfect starter to a late summer or early autumn lunch or dinner.

 

Ingredients

1 ripe melon*, seeds removed, scooped from rind and cut into large chunks

1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped

4 tbsp fresh mint leaves

Juice of one lime

1/2 tsp salt

Mint leaves for garnish

*Canary or Honeydew melons work best for this recipe, but nearly any will do.

 

Preparation

Place first five ingredients in a high-powered blender. Blend on high for approximately 30 seconds. Adjust seasoning as needed and blend to incorporate. Chill for 1-2 hours.

Stir or lightly reblend, then ladle into bowls and garnish with a swirl of extra-virgin olive oil and a sprig of mint.

Serves 4.

Enjoy!

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I consider sweet potatoes a near-perfect food. I know they’re considered a starch, and those trying to lose weight might avoid them, but they’re full of so much goodness. They’re rich in fiber, and they’re one of the best sources of beta-carotene– for Vitamin A. You can do just about anything with them. For example, you can turn them into fries or use them in pies (hey, that rhymes!). Bake them in tarts and brownies. Serve them on the side of meat dishes. Roast them and use them in salads. Use them in soups or in place of regular potatoes for your breakfast hash. The list goes on and on.

I think I serve sweet potatoes at least 2-3 times each week in my home. We all love them, and I’ve convinced the kids that the more color they have on their plates, the better off they’ll be. So the kids welcome the sweet potatoes I serve them in any form.

We have endured a particularly wet winter here in Northern California, and that means less time outside and more time inside, hunkered down, trying to avoid growing webbing between our fingers and toes. That also means more warm soups to stave off the damp chill.

I love this recipe because it’s super easy to prepare (my number one criteria most of the time!), tasty and comforting. I like to top it with toasted prosciutto and toasted pecans, but you could easily sub a vegetarian or vegan option. I’ve also topped this soup with spiced, toasted pepitas  (see my recipe here). Of course, you don’t have to garnish your soups at all, but I think it’s nice to have a contrast of textures when you’re making a super smooth soup. This recipe serves 4-6 depending on whether you’re serving it as one of several courses or whether it’s the main attraction.

 

Ingredients

1 small red onion, skin peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil

1 tbsp ghee

2 medium-size sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

3-4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

2 bay leaves

1-2 tbsp maple syrup

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Sea salt

3-4 slices of prosciutto

1/3 cup pecans

 

Preparation

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium het. Add in the onions and garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onions soften. Add in the sweet potatoes. Pour in enough stock to cover. Submerge the bay leaves. Tap in the cinnamon. Turn up the heat; bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until the sweet potatoes are fork tender (25-30 minutes).

While the soup is simmering, place 3-4 strips of prosciutto and the pecans in a shallow baking dish and cook in a toaster oven (if you have one) on the “toast” setting or regular oven on broil until crisp. Be careful not to let it burn! The high fat content make both susceptible to burning.

When the sweet potato is cooked through, remove the bay leaves. Puree the mixture using a high-powered blender (like a Vitamix) or a good immersion blender, adding a bit of warm water or more stock if you think the consistency is too thick. Stir in the maple syrup and 1 tsp salt. Taste and adjust seasoning, to your liking.

Pour into bowls, and garnish with crumbled prosciutto and pecans. Serve hot.

Enjoy!

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What do you do when your beloved waffle iron suddenly has an identity crisis, and can’t decide if it wants to be a cool iron or a smoking hot iron? You turn your beloved waffles into pancakes naturally.

Seriously, the first time I realized my cherished waffle iron had serious problems, I was in a hurry and decided to make pancakes from the waffle batter just so I wouldn’t have to waste all those good ingredients. However, we love our “waffle pancakes” so much that we regularly make them now. Granted, there’s nothing like the light crisp and chewy center of waffles, so even though I’ve titled this post “waffle pancakes,” you can use this batter in the waffle maker or skillet. (And truth be told, I haven’t replaced my waffle iron yet, because I secretly keep hoping someone will fix it for me.) The recipe is a slightly altered version of Brittany Angell’s “extra-crispy paleo waffles” recipe from her cookbook Every Last Crumb, which is a very valuable book if you’re following a paleo diet and love to bake.

 

Ingredients

3/4 cup almond flour

1/2 cup tapioca starch

1 tbsp coconut flour

2 tsp double-acting, aluminum-free baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 large egg

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup dairy-free milk

1 tbsp coconut sugar

3 tbsp coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly*

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

*Increase to 1/4 cup if making waffles

 

Preparation

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add in everything else except the oil and vinegar. Whisk until smooth. Slowly whisk in the oil, followed by the vinegar. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add a little more milk if the batter isn’t runny enough to pour.

Heat your skillet or waffle iron. Brush your iron or pan with oil, and pour the batter into 4-inch rounds or into your waffle maker. Cook until light golden brown on both sides.

Top with fresh berries, compote and maple syrup.

Enjoy!

 

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Happy New Year! I hope your holiday–no matter how you celebrated it, was merry and bright, and that you’re looking forward to embracing a new year.

Depending on how you lean politically, you may feel a bit of dread as you look to this new year. Or you may feel the pressure to make big plans and set high goals for yourself. We expect so much of ourselves these days–much more than other people expect of us if we stop and really think about it.

Lately, I have been chastising myself for not posting more recipes or product recommendations or summaries of scientific findings. But between caring for my children and serving as the interim executive director of my foundation (link), I haven’t had time for any of it except snapping off photos of some of my meals and daily adventures.

When the new year rolled around, my first inclination was to set targets on how many posts I should publish, how many projects I should complete for the foundation, how many miles I should run weekly, etc. But after some careful thinking, I decided that what my main goal should be is to slow down, ease up, be gentler on myself and more present in the lives of those I love. The “shoulding” is a slow killer. We are not superhuman–none of us.

I don’t want to appear sexist, but the “shoulding” problem appears to affect women more than men. If men do only one job, and they do it well, they are often generally satisfied with themselves. But women seem more prone to setting unrealistic targets across multiple areas of their lives, and this isn’t healthy or sustainable. The woman you may know who raises perfect, well-adjusted kids, stays amazingly fit, produces incredible creations from her kitchen, runs a company, serves on a bunch of non-profit boards, and stays up to date on current affairs, is paying the price in some way. Maintaining that level of achievement and busy-ness takes its toll. We are all just human, and the day holds only so many hours.

Doing too much makes us prone to all sorts of health problems that can present in an immediate and obvious way, like a cold or flu, or slowly wear down our defenses, making us vulnerable to more serious illnesses.

So during this winter season (at least for those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere), when you suddenly think of one more thing you could/should be doing, stop. Make a cup of tea, take a leisurely stroll through your neighborhood, read a fun article in a meaningless magazine, and slow yourself down.

While the rain and snow do their thing outside your window, try making golden tumeric milk. It will warm and nourish your body and boost your immunity. Tumeric contains curcumin, a very strong antioxidant with powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. In fact, a friend told me over the holiday, that she was able to avoid a costly surgery for her elderly dog, after the dog tore its ACL, by feeding it high doses of curcumin, glucosamine (cushions bones at joints) and hyaluronic acid (collagen building).

This milky tea takes minutes to make, yet has lasting benefits. Depending on where you live, you can buy fresh tumeric from your natural grocer.

 

Ingredients

1 cup almond or other non-dairy milk

1 thumb-size piece of fresh tumeric, peeled and roughly chopped

Several grinds of fresh-ground pepper*

1 tbsp maple syrup or sweetener of your choice

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

A healthy pinch of ground cinnamon

*Whether you’re making tumeric milk or taking tumeric supplements, make sure you eat black pepper at the same time. Black pepper contains piperine which significantly increases (2000%!) the absorption of curcumin. Curcumin is also fat soluble so always consume it with a meal or a drink like this one that contains healthy fats.

 

Preparation

Put the first three ingredients in a high-powered blender, such as a Vitamix, and blend until deep gold in color and frothy. Pour the milk mixture into a small saucepan and heat just until hot. Do not boil. Remove from heat and stir in the maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon. Pour into your favorite cup and sip away.

Enjoy!

 

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I’ve loved caesar salad since my days wearing Sears Toughskin jeans and saltwater sandals. But the high calorie count with minimal nutrition of conventional caesar salads started to severely limit the number of appearances the salad has made in my life over the past couple decades… Until now.

This kale caesar salad is my new obsession. I first stumbled upon the salad at a local juice shop, Urban Remedy. I immediately fell in love with their vegan caesar salad, but couldn’t stomach the price or all the plastic packaging they serve the salad in (and the dressing, and the chickpeas, and the “cheese”), so I decided to figure out how to make my own version.

This salad contains the best of everything–crunchy romaine with the added heartiness and health benefits of raw kale, fiber and protein packed roasted chickpeas instead of nutrition-empty croutons from bread, a delicious and creamy caesar dressing that doesn’t use egg or dairy, and “faux parmesan” cheese.

I eat this salad at least three times a week now. It’s so delicious, tastes rich, never gets dull, and gives me a big boost of energy without making me feel too full, ever. It takes a little work to get the various components ready–like roasting the chickpeas and making the dressing, but once you do, you can store the extras in airtight containers in the fridge and prepare future salads in just minutes.

 

Ingredients*

Greens:

4-5 kale leaves, washed, ribs removed, and chopped into 1/4-1/2-inch strips

4-5 romaine lettuce heart leaves, washed and chopped into 1/4-1/2-inch strips

Chickpea “croutons”:

1 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans (I like this brand)

3/4 tsp ground cumin

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Parmesan “cheese”:

1/4 cup raw cashews

1/4 cup raw hulled hemp seeds

2 tbsp sesame seeds

2 tbsp raw hulled sunflower seeds

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

Caesar dressing:

2 tbsp capers (vegan version) or 7 anchovies (jarred)

1 clove garlic crushed

5 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp worcesterhire

1 tsp Dijon

1 cup raw cashews

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

2/3 cup olive oil

filtered water to thin

*The ingredients are for a salad for 1-2 people, but the dressing will make enough for 5-6 salads depending on size and how dressed you like your salads.

 

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 375F (convection, if you have it).

Rinse and drain the chickpeas in a wire mesh colander. In a bowl, toss the chickpeas with the cumin, 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Spread the chickpeas out on an edged cooking sheet and roast for 10-15 minutes or until they start to brown nicely. Set aside and allow to cool.

In a food processor, pulse together 1/4 cup cashews and the seeds from the “cheese” ingredients until coarsely chopped. Toss together with the remaining “cheese” ingredients and set aside.

In a food processor or high-powered blender, combine all the ingredients for the dressing except the water. Slowly add in a little water at a time to get a consistency you like. I like mine very thick, but you want to be able to toss the salad with the dressing and not have it stick in a lump.

Put the greens in a bowl, add in a little dressing and toss to coat. Taste and adjust amount of dressing as desired. Add in a handful of roasted chickpeas and a couple tablespoons of “cheese” per serving, and toss to coat. Serve immediately, although I find a good tossing helps soften and “break down” the kale, which I like.

Happy eating your greens!

 

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