Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Thai One On

NOTE from L.B. - sorry it's been so long since I posted, my Dad put his house up for sale out in Washington State (we're in Chicago) to help with his assisted living costs which I was paying for and cleaning out 75 years of "stuff" was many weeks of work.  But it's sold and that gives my husband and I a breather financially for another year or two (he's 100).  So for today one of my favorite Thai dishes.  You can make this with tofu for a vegetarian version.  The sauce is YUMMY!

I love most southeast Asian dishes, Vietnamese, Thai, Korean.  But finding the ingredients can be a little daunting in some areas. This vegetable-heavy take on Pad Prik which normally uses a specialty curry paste and kaffir lime leaves (not easy to find in our small Polish owned grocers) turned out pretty good.  Good old Sriracha Thai Chili sauce is the secret.  (the most common brand seen in stores, made by Hoy Fung foods is made in the USA, including the bottles). Oh, and there's something called "fish sauce".

Don't turn up your nose at "fish sauce".  Outside of fresh-caught salmon (and I mean we caught it that morning and grilled it, stuffed with lemon and onion wrapped in bacon and drizzled with teriyaki) and occasional beer-battered Irish Pub fish and chips, I'm not a fish fan.  But I use fish sauce a lot in southeast Asian and Chinese dishes.  There's a reason it's a staple in Southeast Asian cultures. If you love Caesar salad, you've eaten one of the main ingredients in the dressing.  Anchovies.  For fish sauce, anchovies caught from clear waters and with salt, are fermented in wooden barrels and then VERY slowly pressed to product this savory liquid  Like Brut aftershave I'd not recommend putting your nose to the bottle for a big whiff, but just a small amount can add a deep richness and depth to a dish (with no "fishy" taste).

If you can, look for Red Boat Fish sauce on the internet, (just google it)  because most of the ones in the grocery are full of additives, wheat protein, chemicals, and MSG.  Red Boat Fish sauce is gluten-free and is really tasty.
For the marinade
2 TBS fish sauce
2 TBS light oil peanut or vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon honey (or light brown sugar)
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons ground coriander  (you might try ginger if you can't find coriander)
1/2  tsp white pepper

For the stir fry sauce
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons  fish sauce
1/4  cup plus 2 Tablespoons cup rice vinegar
1/4  plus 2 Tablespoons water
3 TBS  light brown sugar or honey
3 TBS  Sriracha
 For the stir-fry
1 and 1/2 pounds Seitan or veggie meat substitute
4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 Tablespoons of  peanut or vegetable oil
2 Thai, serrano, or red  jalapeƱo peppers, minced
1 red bell pepper thinly sliced
3 cups green beans
1/2 cup basil finely chopped only slightly.
1 lime- cut into quarters
1 Tablespoons chive chopped for rice garnish (photo op optional)
Mix the marinade ingredients together and mix with meat that you've cut into fairly small, thinner pieces in a gallon zip lock bag, and let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Mince the garlic and mix it with 1 tsp of oil.  Set it aside.

Halve the peppers, scraping the seeds out for mild to medium thai hot.  Slice the red bell pepper into long, fairly thin strips.

Clean the green beans and place in a bowl with the finely diced chilis and your red pepper.
Heat up your skillet or wok in which you've drizzled a couple of teaspoons of vegetable or peanut oil.  Plan on cooking your meat in three batches after you've removed it from the marinade (which is discarded).  This ensures it stays nice and brown instead of getting pale and limp from overcrowding, which teams to end up steaming the meat, not stir-frying it.

When the oil is shimmering and a drop of water sizzles on it and evaporates, you're ready to cook your meat.   The meat will cook very quickly and don't be tempted to constantly maneuver it around with your spatula.  Put the pieces in there, and let cook two minutes to sear them on one side, then move them around the pan stir fry fashion until they're cooked through (about another minute)

Remove the meat to a bowl when cooked through and cook the remaining batches.

Do NOT be tempted to cook it all at once.  It takes just as long and your meat will not be nearly as good.

Add 2 tsp. more oil to the skillet and when shimmering, add the green beans and chilis/bell pepper  Cook for 2-3 minutes stirring constantly.  Clear out a little space in the center and add the garlic/oil mixture, pressing down for 10-15 seconds, then stir it in with the veggies and add the sauce.
Increase heat to high and cook for about a half a minute, until it thickens slightly (but not too long so you have some liquid left)  Add your meat, stir in the basil and remove the pan from the heat. 

Serve with rice if you are so inclined and a wedge of lime.  Note:  I boil my rice with a bit of coconut oil  (about 3% of the rice's weight) and then refrigerate for a day, then reheat.  This has been proven in studies to reduce the digestible carbs a fair amount.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Chicken-Free Orange Chicken

Postmenopause my uric acid levels went up to where I had a gout attack, which surprised the doctor as I wasn't overweight and I rarely drank beer or red wine (common triggers).  The only attack I had after that was after a very "meat-heavy" week of dining (party and anniversary banquet).  So now I eat meat-free two meals a day and gout has not come back.  Plus, it increases the number of veggies I get in my diet and allows me extra money to buy really good quality free-range beef and chicken for the days I do eat meat.  But with low blood sugar, getting adequate protein is important so I do look for veggie protein meals that can be quick and easy on workdays and are made with ingredients I can recognize from nature.

These are my favorite, the orange crispy chicken.  They take just 6-8 minutes to prepare and served with a little leftover rice or noodles and some raw veggies, I have a really tasty workday meal. The orange chicken, unlike many veggie "meats" contains just ancient grains, not just whole wheat flour, such as amaranth, millet, quinoa, and KAMUT Khorasan wheat.  The coating does have a little wheat but it's non-GMO and non-genetically-engineered.
Gardein has quite a line of products and this one and the regular crispy chicken pieces I have every single week when I work from home. The "pork" and "beef" strips are also excellent and make great faux Chinese or Thai "takeout" (recipes on the Gardein blog).  Just a note:  If you are at Trader Joe's and see the meatless crispy chicken in the freezer case- I am almost positive it's made by the Gardein people for Trader Joes.  The Crispy chicken has a really unique look/coating and taste and they are EXACTLY like my Gardein ones and made in the same place, but they are cheaper. So be on the lookout.

Today I worked for home and was able to cook, eat and post about my choice on my 30-minute break. All I needed was a dish with hot water to warm the ready-made sauce and a pan with a little olive oil to heat the chick'n.
Once they were heated through and starting to brown I mixed them with the heated sauce. I usually do this in a bowl so as not to pick up any extra oil in the pan.

Gardein is a Canadian company.  I'm beginning to think that Canada has stricter food regulations than the US.  I get my Kraft blue box mac and cheese through Canada, which up there is called KD (what they call it). Seriously, I'll buy a case of it at a time. It has way less artificial ingredients and additives than the US Kraft dinner and tastes better with less fat.  Even my husband who does not like the US version gobbles it up. The Gardein products as well have way less "science experiment" sounding ingredients than some US brands of veggie "meats".  Maybe it's a coincidence but I've been very pleased with the quality of those two items.

You can find Gardein all over the US at most grocery stores.
This was half the package - it says it serves 3 but that's more as a side, not your major entree. I could probably eat the whole package but I'd be too full to move but they are THAT good, like the orange chicken at your favorite Chinese place without all the fat and salt.

Dividing the package in  half (no sauce) is

195 calories
0 grams Saturated or Trans fat
less than 400 mg sodium
0 sugar
and the best part 15 grams of protein.

Adding a tablespoon of the yummy sauce to your entree adds just 40 calories and 8 grams of sugar.

With a couple big spoonfuls of rice and some veggies, I had a filling lunch, ready in 10 minutes, for less than 300 calories that was SERIOUSLY better than those frozen diet meals.
click on photo to enlarge -I dare you

These are by far my favorite meatless "meat" products as far as pretty clean ingredients, minimal additives and taste and super easy to make, just heat them up!  Also, my grocer will often have them on sale which brings them to just a bit over a buck a serving.  Not bad.

Gluten Intolerant?

Gardein also has 4 yummy gluten-free products.

ground Beefless (great in any recipe that calls for hamburger)
chick'n Scallopini (yummy!)
garden burger and
black bean burger.

Enjoy - a Cow or Chicken will thank you!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Meatless Monday - Are you Hungry

Sorry it's been so long since posting - I was off doing book tours and signings for my book published just before summer.  So let's catch up!

For my "meatless Monday" I'm going to feature a meat-free lunch and dinner recipe.  The lunch uses some pre-made products and cooks in minutes, perfect to make up before work to stick in a little cooler to reheat for lunch or to have on a short break at home on "off" or "telework" days.

Dinner uses things you likely have around the house.  Not only is it quick to make it's SUPER cheap - like a QUARTER per serving when you buy your beans and pasta in bulk.

Breakfast was a smoothie made with a a green  apple, some green grapes, spring water, a big handful of spinach and some protein powder. It was really refreshing. I also packed some cut up raw veggies and an apple for an afternoon snack.
Lunch was Gardein mandarin orange crispy chicken.  I got these for 4 bags  for $10 at the store on sale which works out to just a little over a buck per recommended serving. These are my all time favorite vegetarian products for having the taste and texture of  cooked meat without a lot of ingredients I can't pronounce (and they have a great bean burger). Seriously, look at the ingredient list of some other well known brands of "veggie meats - it's a science experiment! This offering has gluten but for those of you sensitive or intolerant, Gardein has several products which are gluten free and very tasty.

Main Ingredients: water, soy protein, wheat gluten, expeller pressed canola oil, wheat, amaranth, millet, quinoa, yeast, vegetable gum, potato starch, sea salt, natural flavors from plant sources, onion powder, vinegar, garlic powder, pea protein, carrot fiber, beetroot fiber, paprika, turmeric and natural smoke flavoring. I'm sensitive to soy, but eating it just once a week doesn't bother my IBS, I just can't eat it daily.  The sauce is sweetened with mandarin and tangerine juice concentrate and chopped orange peel. This blows the Ailuropoda melanoleuca Express fast-food orange chicken out of the water, considering how healthy it is.
It cooks up in a pan in a little olive oil in just six minutes (or you can bake in the oven for 15-18 min.)  The sauce is in a little packet you just heat up in a coffee cup full of hot water.  I served with some quinoa I made in the microwave.  The package says "serves 3" but my husband and I, when eating together, split the bag when it's the orange chicken because we just love it.

With the quinoa (and a small side salad) lunch was in at less than 400 calories with 21 grams of complete protein.
Dinner was lentil pasta sauce.  I used a jar of pasta sauce I got on sale for .99 cents to which I added extra basil and some caramelized onion (optional for those of you who don't eat onion), a shake or two of crushed red pepper, a drop of honey and two cups of cooked lentils.  (rinse and simmer 20 minutes, and you have lentils!).

I tossed it with some cooked spaghetti with just a tiny sprinkle of cheese and a side of cooked carrots. The leftover sauce also freezes well for a quick meal another day.

The days protein was around 50 grams with the protein powder in the smoothie, enough for a woman of my weight on a day I wasn't very physically active.  Note:  If you want to know how much protein you need, for other than a very active person -  convert your weight to kilograms and multiply that by .8 to get the grams.

It was also high in fiber and low in saturated fat, a win win that won't have you missing the meat.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Bacon and Blueberries - Gluten-Free

Blueberry muffins and bacon - one of my favorite breakfasts. Muffins made with Otto's Cassava flour (made out of the yucca plant) Gluten free (yes, blood work revealed that gluten was NOT my friend) high in fiber and calcium and light as a feather (bought on Amazon) They do NOT taste "gluten-free" with that sometimes course texture gluten-free gets. They do tend to use a bit more liquid than when working with regular flour so here is the recipe. Otto's website has a bunch of great recipes (seriously, try the copycat Chick Fila chicken strips).

Gluten-free Blueberry Muffins
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, or ghee, softened
2 egg yolks
1 and 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 and 1/2 cups Otto's Naturals - Cassava Flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup to 1 cup full-fat coconut milk or regular milk
1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice
3/4 cup dry fresh blueberries
2 egg whites, beaten to stiff peaks 


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 C for my Canadian friend). Prepare a muffin pan with liners.

In a small bowl, combine milk and vinegar. Stir and let sit for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter, until fluffy. Add in the egg yolks and mix thoroughly. Set the egg whites aside
Stir in lemon juice and zest.

In a separate bowl, combine Otto's Naturals - Cassava flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Slowly add milk mixture and flour mixture to the large bowl of ingredients. When mixed, stir in berries.

Beat the egg whites and gently fold in. Fill muffin pan and bake for about 15-18 minutes.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Fluffy AND Gluten Free

Folks, I'm really loving my Otto's gluten/nut/soy free Cassava flour (I can't do  the popular gluten-free almond flour as almonds are on my "hit list" from my IBS blood sensitivity test.)  Casssava also has 12 grams of fiber per cup and more calcium and B vitamins than regular flour.

They taste just like my regular fluffy pancakes, it just took a slight tweak to the recipe.

Otto's is made out of the yucca plant (excluding the peel) and acts just like regular flour in most recipes, just lacking the gluten and it doesn't have that artificial taste of most commercial "gluten-free" products. I've tried other brands and Otto's just simply can't be beaten.
In a large bowl mix:
1 cup Otto's cassava flour (I bought mine on Amazon)
1 tsp. no sodium baking soda (Hains)
1/2 teaspoon low sodium salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon sugar.

In another bowl mix:
1/2 cup goat milk yogurt
1/2 cup spring water or goat milk
1 splash of vanilla
1 large egg (whisked)

then slowly stream in 2 Tablespoons melted butter.

Mix wet ingredients into dry.  Stirring until combined.

You want the batter to be slightly thicker than cake batter, but less thick than brownie batter.  I ended up adding an additional l/4 cup water.

Using a small measuring cup to place batter on the oiled griddle, cook the pancakes on a slightly lower heat than regular pancakes cooking until browned on both sides. Keep them fairly small (about 4-5 inches across).  Makes 10-12. Served with Kerrygold butter and pure maple syrup.