I got very inspired late last night reading a beautiful cookbook “The Food of Taiwan” by Cathy Erway. Since it was late and I probably shouldn’t have been eating OR cooking, I picked a pretty quick recipe, Noodles with Minced Pork and Fermented Bean Sauce. Most of the ingredients are common pantry items and things you would find in the refrigerator.

The ingredients waiting to be tossed

The ingredients waiting to be tossed

I made a few intentional and some unintentional substitutions, which I’ll list below. Took about 45 minutes including prep and cooking. Makes about 4 servings.

Ingredients

Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp oil (vegetable or peanut) (I forgot this completely)
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tbsp fried shallots (I used fresh shallots instead)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup sweet bean sauce (I used hoisin sauce)
  • 2 tsps cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 to 2 tsp dark soy sauce

Noodles

  • 1 pound wheat noodles
  • 1/2 cup fresh or thawed edamame
  • 2 cups packed bok choy or napa cabbage leaves (I used bok choy)

For Serving

  • 1/4 cup black rice vinegar
  • 1 cup fresh bean sprouts (I only had canned and they did not taste good, so skipped these)
  • 1 cup julienned cucumbers

Method for the sauce:Fermented Bean Sauce

Heat the tablespoon of oil in your wok over medium heat and add the pork fat. Sprinkle with salt and sir-fry for about 1 minute. Then add the shallots, garlic and sugar and incorporate together. Stir in the sweet bean sauce. Separately stir together the cornstarch and water. Once the pork mixture is bubbling, add the cornstarch mixture, stirring until it thickens, ~10 seconds. Taste and season accordingly, soy sauce optional.

Method for noodles:

Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool.  Next bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil, and also prepare a bowl of ice water and keep to the side. Drop the edamame in and cook for 3-4 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Drop the bok choy or cabbage into the boiling water for up to a minute. Remove and transfer to the ice bath to cool. When greens are cooled, shred them.

For serving:

Makes about 4 servings

Makes about 4 servings

Arrange your noodles in a large serving bowl. Drizzle the vinegar around. Ladle the pork sauce on top of the noodles. Then add all of the veggies to the top of the sauce. Toss everything together and serve. According to Ms. Erway, the dish is supposed to be lukewarm.

The dish was extremely tasty, and was a nice mix of protein, fat and carbs. Good dose of vegetables and the is not the star of the dish, but rather plays a supporting role. Definitely left me feeling satisfied. My only comment is that I like my food with a lot more heat, so I added a good dose of sriracha sauce just before serving.

The Food of Taiwan by Cathy Erway

The Food of Taiwan by Cathy Erway

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Spruce up dull roasted vegetables by adding lots of color and flavor

Spruce up dull roasted vegetables by adding lots of color and flavor

I have to admit, I am not a huge carrot fan. I like them well enough, but, I don’t go out of my way to eat them regularly (I know deep in my soul this is probably a holdover from a long ago experiment with the Atkins diet, for shame!) They are a staple in my house though as a raw snack, usually with hummus and every so often they will be the steamed veggie of the night.

I don’t know about you, but, this long winter has been causing me some serious vegetable burnout, so I finally caved in and bought some of those colorful carrots I keep seeing in the food store. I know those colors provide some serious antioxidant powerhouse nutrition. I didn’t realize how gorgeous they would be as part of a meal! When I threw them in with a few other vegetables, I honestly felt like I was looking at a fruit salad. The only thing missing was a watermelon basket.

Recipe:

1-2 servings

Ingredients

4 carrots, peeled and cut into ~ 1/2 inch slices (I used purple, orange and yellow)

2 large stalks of celery, cut into 1/2 inch slices

5 medium radishes, quartered

2 pearl onions

1-2 tsp coconut oil (smeared along bottom of roasting pan)

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

1- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2- Chop all vegetables while oven is heating up.

3- Smear coconut oil along the bottom of roasting pan and add vegetables to pan

4- Shake the vegetables around in the pan until they are somewhat coated with coconut oil

5- Roast vegetables ~20-30 minutes, or until fork tender.

6- Sprinkle with salt and pepper. I like to use the Pink Himalayan salt for the big crystals and a little crunch.

This whole dish clocks in at less than 200 calories and a very respectable 9 grams of fiber! Not to mention over 250% of your RDA for Vitamin A. Your night vision will thank you.

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A little herbal inspiration from the burgeoning herb garden inspired to this simple delicious and healthy quickie dinner. Grabbed some chives, basil, thyme, parsley and/or cilantro and pulsed it altogether with s little bit of dijon mustard and a little bit of lime juice with a splash of sesame oil in the mini Cuisinart.

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I had some scallops, not so much fresh as recently purchased in one of those shrink wrap packages from the local Korean grocery store, and maybe hanging out in my fridge just a little too long…They smelled okay though, so onward and upwards.

Made a quick marinade of sesame oil, lime juice, ginger and garlic and let the scallops hang out in there for a few minutes.

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Prior to starting the saute, also cut up some veggies as a nice accompaniment to the scallops. Peppers, onions, zucchinis, nice round circle cuts to imitate a “pasta” side dish.

After a 3-5 minute saute of the scallops, plated with a drizzle of some herbal pesto and side of veggies, totally delicious and satisfying.

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Finished product is high in protein, low in calories and off the charts in taste.

Doble Chocolate Biscotti

Double Chocolate Biscotti

I talk a lot on my blog about drinking coffee, and I have to admit I do like to dunk things in my coffee every now and again. Sometimes, when I am in Starbucks I am so tempted to buy those biscotti they have at the counter wrapped in plastic, to dunk in my coffee of course.

I don’t buy them though because I know biscotti are relatively easy to make, and when you make them yourself, you can make them as low fat and/or low calorie as you like.

This weekend I adapted a recipe which originally appeared in Cooking Light, December 2008. They will definitely satisfy your chocolate cravings. I changed a few things:

  1. Replaced the white flour with whole wheat flour (increases fiber, lowers the calories)
  2. Used half the amount of sugar, and used brown sugar instead of white sugar (less calories, tastes better)
  3. Added 1/4 cup dried tart cherries and zest of one orange (adds fragrance and texture)
  4. Added some oil and milk to compensate for the dryness of the whole wheat flour (if you don’t want to use oil, you could use yogurt or applesauce, just to add more moisture)
Here’s the recipe with the above-mentioned adaptations

Double Chocolate and Tart Cherry Biscotti

Yield

3 dozen (serving size: 2 biscotti)

Ingredients

  • 6.75  ounces  whole wheat flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2  cup  sugar
  • 1/2  cup  unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2  cup  semisweet chocolate minichips
  • 1/4 cup dried tart montmorency cherries (chopped)
  • 1/2  teaspoon  baking powder
  • 1/2  teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • Zest of one orange
  • 2  large eggs
  • 1  large egg white
  • 2 tablespoons milk (if necessary)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil (if necessary)
  • Cooking spray

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 7 ingredients (through salt) in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine vanilla, zest, eggs, and egg white in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture to egg mixture; stir until well blended. If dough is too dry, add two tablespoons of skim milk and/or canola oil. Divide dough in half. Turn dough out onto a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. With floured hands, shape each dough half into a 12-inch-long roll; pat to 1/2-inch thickness.

3. Bake at 350° for 22 minutes. Remove rolls from baking sheet; cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Cut each roll diagonally into 18 (1/2-inch) slices. Carefully stand slices upright on baking sheet. Bake biscotti an additional 15 minutes or until almost firm (biscotti will be slightly soft in center but will harden as they cool). Remove biscotti from baking sheet; cool completely on wire rack.

Cooking Tip:

Use parchment paper to line the baking sheet, it will prevent the biscotti from burning and it keeps the pan clean.

Nutritional Information Per Serving

Calories: 107
Fat: 3 g (sat 1g, mono 1.2 g, poly 0.32 g)
Protein: 2.8 g
Carbohydrate: 18 g
Fiber: 1.2 g
Cholesterol: 24mg
Sodium: 125mg
While my changes did not change the original nutrition information too dramatically, I prefer to use less sugar whenever possible. And in this case, I was able to add some antioxidants to the mix, as well as some additional mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
To cut even more calories you could use a sugar substitute, and use egg whites instead of the whole eggs. When I make these again, I will probably add some nuts as well because I like a little crunch in my biscotti.