Saturday, February 23, 2013

Hoisin Long Beans

Although I have gotten away from Chinese take-out because of its high sodium and fat content, I still find that I enjoy many Asian style vegetables. In order to cut down of the unwanted calories,  I've learned to make healthier Chinese food by using less sodium and fat.  I love Asian Long beans; typically stir-fried, this dish can be high in fat.  One of the ways I avoid using lots of oil to prepare these beans is by blanching them first.    Blanching the beans beforehand, partially cooks them and therefore  cuts down significantly on the fat you would normally use to cook them.  I also add fresh water chestnuts for that extra crunch.

Hoisin Long Beans


1 pound Asian Long Beans, blanched and shocked
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 fresh water chestnuts, peeled and julienne
1” piece ginger peeled and julienne
2 teaspoons garlic, julienne
¼ cup hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons soy sauce
¼ cup water


Cut beans into 5 inch pieces
Heat saute pan add sesame oil

When pan is hot, but not smoking, add water chestnuts, ginger and garlic.  Saute for 2 minutes

Add long beans

Then hoisin, soy and water

Gentle toss and simmer for five minutes

Remove from pan garnish with sesame seed if desired

Saturday, February 16, 2013


I didn’t really cook anything today because I spent the day in a Customer Service seminar at my church.  In order to volunteer, everyone must complete this class before they are eligible to serve.   Yesterday's email reminder said, “Lunch will be provided.”  At this point in my life, that statement always makes me feel a bit uneasy, especially when attending an all day meetings.  Thoughts of cold sandwiches and chips filled my head as I brushed my teeth this morning.  Not willing to compromise on my regimen, I packed a lunch and this is what I made.   
Greek chicken salad, dried fruit and nuts and Mary’s Gone Crackers an organic, gluten, dairy and wheat free cracker that is delicious!
For those of you who may be dieting or are on a special food plan, I recommend packing a lunch.  Why leave the nourishment of yourself to someone else if you are unsure of what you will get? It takes a few minutes out of the morning but I assure you it will be time well spent. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013


Two years ago, I would have been challenged to find quinoa in my local supermarket but today not only can it be found among the now large selection of specialty grains, it is also on the impulse item shelf at the checkout counter.  Times have changed.  Perhaps it is because the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) officially declared  the year 2013 as "The International Year of the Quinoa”. 

Historically, this native grain of South America has been around since 1200 AD.  Along with maize, quinoa was one of the two mainstay foods for the Inca Empire

I am happy to see folks embrace this powerhouse grain.  Often considered the Mother of Grains, quinoa contains enough of the 20 amino acids to make it a complete protein with one cup of quinoa providing 8g of protein and 5g of dietary fiber. What’s more, the presences of these two macronutrients make quinoa perfect for regulation of blood sugar.     

Often I will recommend quinoa as a substitute for rice or cous cous. Most often people will typically prepare rice by steaming or boiling it, but I suggest giving quinoa a little more love.   Make it  pilaf style and use it  in salads, soups or as a replacement for other starches.  Try preparing quinoa this way and I am sure you’ll think twice before reaching for the rice or potatoes again.


2 teaspoons olive oil
1/3 cup diced carrots
1/3 cup diced celery
½ cup diced onions
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 cup quinoa
3 cups chicken/vegetable stock or water
¼ cup sliced scallions (optional)

Heat olive in a medium saucepan

Add carrots, celery, onions, garlic and salt; cover and cook until onions become translucent; add thyme

 then quinoa and liquid

Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer

Cover and allow cooking until all liquid is completely evaporated

Remove from pot and garnish with scallions if desired

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Okinawan Sweet Potatoes

This is Super Bowl weekend and my sister is preparing roast pork for dinner and asked me to bring the starch.  I am sure there will be plenty of nachos, chips and guacamole to snack on during the game.  With that in mind, I thought something wholesome perhaps.  She asked for something, “different” since she typically serves buttered noodles or potatoes with roasted pork. Then the ideal came to me as I walk in the produce section of a market in Flushing.  Okinawan Sweet Potatoes!
Hard to believe that something so…beige on the outside,
can be so beautiful and vibrant on the inside. 
Okinawan Sweet Potatoes are plentiful in Asian markets this time of year. These tubers are actually native to the Americas and believed to have made its way to Japan after 1492.   The Japanese people quickly embraced the Okinawan sweet potato where it is found in tempura, purees and some pastries.
The radiant purple hue is not without its health benefits.  Like most fruits/vegetables high in the purple-blue pigment, Okinawan Sweet Potatoes are rich in a flavonoid know as anthocyanin. Like blueberries, red cabbage and eggplant the Okinawan Sweet Potato is a powerful antioxidant that’s been shown to have positive affects on brain health and Alzheimer’s. It is also high in fiber and vitamin C. 

So, I decided to roast my Okinawan Sweet Potatoes making it easier to serve on a buffet.  The hint of citrus helps bring out the flavor of the potato and the ginger is a nice complement.

Okinawan Sweet Potatoes

3# Okinawan sweet potatoes
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
½ teaspoon salt
Orange zest (optional garnish)

Preheat oven to 350F
 Peel potatoes
Cut by hand or with a mandolin ¼ inch thick
Place in a large bowl; add olive oil, juices, ginger and salt. 
Toss until potatoes are well coated. 
Place on a cooling rack in a sheet pan.
Bake for 45 minutes or until potatoes are soft inside
Remove from oven allow to cool 

Garnish with orange zest if desired.