Fig & Banana Smoothie

August 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

 

I’m finally back in the States after spending most of my Summer in Taiwan. What I miss the most is having fresh tropical fruits on a daily basis. So now that I am back, I have been trying to incorporate more fruits in my diet. I bought two pounds of fresh brown turkey figs because they’re delicious, in season and I got them for $5!

California’s Fresh Figs Seasonal Chart

Chart and descriptions below from California Fresh Figs

  • Fresh Brown Turkey Figs 

They are a light purple to black skinned fig with pink flesh and a robust flavor.

  • Fresh Black Mission Figs

They are a purple to black skinned fig with pink flesh and an intense earthy flavor.

  • Fresh Kadota Figs 

They have a creamy amber color when ripe with a light delicate flavor.

  • Fresh Calimyrna Figs 

They are large pale yellow skinned figs with a nutty, sweet flavor.

I enjoy figs in all recipes, but what I love the most is eating them fresh. I’ve been making this smoothie for a couple of days now and still have not gotten tired of it. I love figs!

Fig & Banana Smoothie Recipe

Serves: 1

Cook Time: 5-10 min

  • 3 Fresh Figs
  • ½ Banana*
  • ½ tbp Shredded Coconut
  • 1 cup of Soymilk or Coconut milk
  • ½ cup of Ice
  • ½ cup of Water
  • Agave or Honey to taste**

*I used frozen banana chunks. My bananas were softening so I cut them up and put them in the freezer.

**It was sweet enough for me without adding anything extra.

To Make: Add all ingredients in blender and blend

Enjoy!

Soy Milk at Home

July 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

In Taiwan, I can find fresh soy milk almost at every corner. It’s an essential part of traditional Taiwanese breakfast along with the duo shao bing (literally means baked bread) and you tiao (literally oil stick), which is major carb overload. Shao bing you tiao= donut sandwich. It’s not as weird as it sounds. It’s actually delicious! Occasionally, it’s a necessary evil, but I keep my love affair at a distance. I opt out of the you tiao and go for the shao bing with egg along with a refreshing cup of ice cold soy milk.

shao bing you tiao taken from blogger my inner fatty

Buying fresh soy milk in Taiwan is easy, but once you make your own, store-bought will never be as good. Homemade soy milk is delicious, cheap and easy to make. There are two things that take time: (1) soaking the beans over night and (2) steaming the beans. Most recipes don’t steam the beans, but I found that steaming them before blending brings out more flavor.

*Nutrients in 8 ounces (250 ml) of plain soymilk:

Regular Soymilk Lite Soymilk (reduced fat) Whole cow milk Fat-free cow milk
Calories (kcal) 90 70 149 83
Protein (g) 10.0 4.0 7.7 8.3
Fat (g) 4.0 2.0 8.0 0.2
Carbohydrate (g) 14.0 16.0 11.7 12.2
Lactose (g) 0.0 0.0 11.0 12.5
Sodium (mg) 120 100 105 103
Iron (mg) 1.8 0.6 0.07 0.07
Riboflavin (mg) 0.1 11.0 0.412 0.446
Calcium (mg) 80.0 80.0 276 299

*Soymilk on soyfoods.com; cow milk figures from USDA Nutrient Database. USDA soymilk data differs; apparently soy figures are sweetened.

Serves: 3-4

Ingredients:

Kitchen Tools:

To Make:

Step 1: rinse soy beans

Step 2: soak overnight or 8 hours minimum make sure beans are submerged

it’s natural to see bubbles

Step 3: steam for 30min-1 hour

make sure they’re soft and steamed thoroughly

Step 4: remove shells

It will be difficult to remove all the shells. It’s okay if some are left.

**Step 5: in VitaMix blend 1:3 measure of beans to water (~45 sec)

Step 6: dilute to desired consistency

Step 7: use strainer spoon to remove excess foam

Step 8: add sweetener if desired

**Note: I used a VitaMix, but if you use a regular blender the consistency will vary. If you want a smoother liquid, strain with cheesecloth after Step 5 and move directly to Step 8.

Enjoy!

in a glass

in a bowl

Helpful links for making soy milk

Toona sinensis aka Chinese Toon or 香椿 xiang chun

June 10, 2011 § 3 Comments

I’m excited to introduce Chinese Toon. Before this post, I only knew this vegetable/herb by its Chinese name. I have never seen it sold or grown in the U.S. as pictured; only in its dried form and even that is rare. In fact, I didn’t even know what this looked like until a family friend gave us a batch from her garden. It was an exciting day. 🙂

Imagine growing up eating and loving cilantro, but not knowing its name or what it looked like. That’s how I feel about xiang chun.  It has a strong distinct flavor with a similar strength as garlic. It can be a great complement to a dish or overwhelming if you don’t like the taste (similar to onion or chives). I can eat it with everything!

It is predominately used in Asian cuisine, mainly Chinese. I have had it with tofu, eggs, stir-fries, noodles, rice and savory Chinese pancakes. All delicious!

To Prepare:

Step 1: fold the leaves in half and tear them off the branch from the stem (this will leave the root behind)

Step 2: after washing, mince leaves

Step 3: transfer to container, sprinkle salt to bring out juices, mix and seal (the true flavor of xiang chun will not come out till this step)

You can then save this for future use in tofu, stir-fries, noodles, fried rice or pancakes.

Next time you come across Toona sinensis aka Chinese Toon or 香椿 xiang chun, you’ll know how to use it or at least have a new dish to try at your favorite Chinese restaurant. Be sure to ask for it in its Chinese name, xiang chun. Here’s the wiki page to learn more.

Enjoy!

xiang chun with dried tofu (not dry in taste, rather tofu with much less moisture)

Quinoa and Spinach Salad with Berries

June 1, 2011 § 3 Comments

My friend moved to Fort Collins, Colorado last year and I went to visit over the weekend. It was filled with fun and of course, delicious food. (I’ll go into more details later. For now, let’s focus on this salad.) Not only is quinoa delicious, it’s actually nutritious and easy to make.

Why it’s nutritious

“When NASA scientists were searching decades ago for an ideal food for long-term human space missions, they came across an Andean plant called quinoa. With an exceptional balance of amino acids, quinoa, they declared, is virtually unrivaled in the plant or animal kingdom for its life-sustaining nutrients.”New York Times (an article about the origins of quinoa and current dilemma in Bolivia)

Quinoa has a chewy texture with a nutty flavor. It’s often mistaken for a grain, but it’s actually related to beets and spinach. The textures and flavors worked well and it’s easy to adapt your favorite nuts and fruits to this dish.  We made it for dinner and savored every bite.

Give quinoa a try! You will be pleasantly surprised. 🙂

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • ~2 loose cups of chopped spinach
  • 1/4 cup of cranberries
  • 1/4 cup of currants
  • 1/4 cup of azuki beans (unsweetened)
  • 2 tbsp almond slices
  • 2 small garlic cloves
  • juice from 1/2 lemon (~2 tbsp)
  • 2 tsp of maple syrup or agave
  • 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

To Make:

Step 1: boil quinoa with vegetable broth (your package should come with instructions or follow this great video)

Step 2: in a bowl, add in all your ingredients in order listed and mix

Enjoy!

 

 

Creamy Corn Soup with Roasted Peppers

May 21, 2011 § 2 Comments

creamy corn soup with roasted peppers and spicy oil

About the Soup

Arugula, corn and roasted peppers make one of my favorite chopped salads. So why not make a soup?

I wanted to try Tal Ronnen’s Cashew Cream recipe from his book, the conscious cook. Supposedly, raw cashews can mimic the texture and replace cream without altering taste. In the past, I’ve used soy, coconut and almond milk as substitutes for milk. I’ve never used them in savory recipes and I wouldn’t want to. They tasted like what they’re supposed to-soy, coconut and almond.

Could cashews be the answer? I needed to try it.

Cashew Cream Recipe by Tal Ronnen

a page from Tal Ronnen’s The Conscious Cook

I followed the recipe as instructed. I have a Vita-Mix blender (pricey, but worth every penny) so it made things a lot easier.

Step 1: Soak raw cashews (I used a 16 oz. bag from Trader Joe’s.)

This is what they look like after being soaked for a few days. The recipe says overnight, but I didn’t get to them till 3 days later.

Step 2: Pour in Vita-Mix and blend until smooth

cashew cream (~5 cups)

The Soup

Serves: ~4-5

Ingredients:

  • 3 ears of sweet corn
  • 3 roasted peppers*
  • 1 loose cup of arugula (garnish)
  • 1 cup of cashew cream
  • 3 cups of water
  • 2-3 tbsp of olive oil (more for frying arugula)
  • spicy olive oil (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

* I used Trader Joe’s pre-made fire roasted peppers.

Step 1: Shave the kernels (I used a knife or you can buy a fancy gadget.)

Step 2: pour olive oil onto a medium heated pan and saute the kernels with some salt and pepper for 5-7 mins until color changes

Step 3: set 2/3 cup of sautéed kernels aside

Step 4: in your Vita-Mix, add sautéed kernels, roasted peppers, cashew cream, 2 cups of water and blend

Step 5: in a large pot, pour mixture and heat; add 2/3 cup of kernels back in (adjust salt and pepper) and stir; use the remaining cup of water to adjust desired creaminess

Step 6: keep soup on very low heat and prepare to make the garnish

Fried Arugula

Step 1: fill pot with oil 1/2 inch deep

Step 2: after patting dry arugula, drop a few pieces in and fry for 30 seconds each

Step 3: remove and drain on paper towel immediately

fried arugula

Conclusion

This soup was creamy and delicious! There was no after taste. It was a true replacement for cream. I couldn’t believe it! The flavor was amazing!

I encourage you to try this recipe. You will never look at cashews the same.

Enjoy!

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