Thai (inspired) Noodle Soup

Thai Noodle

So when I need inspiration, I hit the books – recipe books, that is. I have fewer recipe books than you’d think, though. Once I discovered internet recipes and Pinterest, there was no turning back. But there are several I hang onto with beautiful pictures that I turn to for ideas. And this past Friday was one such day.

But not a single recipe took my fancy.

Sure, I had a few ingredients on a shopping list. Yet no congregation of ingredients lit up my heart. It was halfway to the grocery store, though, that a golden vision appeared in my head.

I remembered one visit my husband and I had made to a thai restaurant up in Phoenix, a sister establishment to its neighboring oriental supermarket. Both of our soups had been so beautifully arranged, each ingredient had its place, just waiting for a loving hand to stir and eat. The crisp taste of vegetables, noodles, and hot broth was suddenly all I could think about.

So I whipped this little number. And as usual, my husband would complain that the floor looked like a “lawn mower had come through.” But he was all smiles when he tasted the results.

What I love especially about this recipe is that not everything in soup has to be cooked to mush. I loved the fresh snap of some of the vegetables that I waited until right before serving to place in a hot bowl of broth. While the lemon was not as clear as I would have liked, I recommend adding a touch of lemon juice for flavor.

Thai-Inspired Noodle Soup

Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS

2 cartons (32-oz) low-salt, Vegetarian No-Chicken Broth
1 yellow onion, diced
6 carrots (julienned)
5 celery stalks (sliced)
1 lemongrass stalk, minced
1/2 of a jalapeño, minced
1 bundles of Bok Choy
8 oz of Buckwheat Soba noodles
Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced (divided)
Spring onions, chopped (divided)
Cilantro, chopped (divided)

PREPARATION

On a stovetop, heat up the broth. As it starts to bubble, add onion, carrots, celery stalks, lemongrass, and jalapeño. Cut the bok choy leaves from the stems, and cut up stems like celery and add to pot. Let it simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add noodles. Cook until tender.

Take bok choy leaves and cut them lengthwise, like ribbons. Ladle out the noodles without broth into a bowl, and add mushrooms, cilantro, spring onions, and bok choy. Ladle a cup of hot soup broth and let stand for a few minutes as fresh uncooked vegetables soften in the hot water. Serve – and ENJOY!.

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Butternut Squash Spaghetti Sauce

Here is a recipe I whipped up recently. Because I never make anything small, this makes a lot…but easy enough to freeze some for later meals!

Butternut Squash Spaghetti

spaghetti1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 jar (25-oz) spaghetti sauce
1 can (13.5 oz) light coconut milk

Cook together on medium heat covered until squash is cooked.

2 small yellow onions, diced
4 or 5 cloves of garlic, minced
Sprinkle of turmeric and black pepper

Fry three ingredients together in a separate pan in a small quarter sized amount of olive oil on medium to low heat for about 20 minutes. You may add lemon juice to lubricate.
When squash is ready, mash together until even (I used a potato masher).

1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
5 mushrooms, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced

Add onion and garlic along with these three ingredients to sauce and mix, then take off stove and cover. Let residual heat cook the veggies in the sauce while making noodles (about 15 to 20 mins).

Although spicy foods are not recommended for the first trimester (it can aggravate nausea and morning sickness), I added a tablespoon of red pepper flakes for a nice sweet and hot taste. Feel free to add nutritional yeast (like I did), and a few leaves of spinach for color.

Mix with noodles, add fresh cilantro and enjoy.

Yum!

Vegetarian Chili

Fall is officially here! Cold weather is coming and so are the holidays. In our family, there is nothing more heart (and tummy!) warming than having a pot of chili on the stove that everyone can pick from throughout the day when hanging out for a visit. This was one of my recent creations, and it was an immediate favorite. Enjoy!

Vegetarian Chili

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SERVES 10-12 Continue reading “Vegetarian Chili”

Patriotic Pigments: Eat your red, white & blue!

 

Looking down at my breakfast this morning, luscious berries in a cushion of oatmeal, I was suddenly overcome with patriotism. Well, at least I was struck by the patriotic resemblance to our nation’s red, white and blue banner as Fourth of July nears.

And so, I became inspired to talk about the colors in our food! Continue reading “Patriotic Pigments: Eat your red, white & blue!”

What’s for dinner? My mystery meals

These days, I just never know what’s going to end up on my plate for the evening.

With recently having to acclimate to feeding two people over a week’s time, my former two-meal plan which I usually prepared on Sundays no longer carries me through the week. With little time during the week for either of us to take a meaningful trip to the supermarket, we’re often left having to get a little creative in the kitchen and cook on the fly when supplies run low. Since we are not a pre-fab food type of couple, it can make things difficult in our busy lives that we have to find time to prepare something. Yet we both find it a sexy challenge to root through the cupboards to come up with something rivaling a gourmet restaurant meal.

As a character on the TV show Six Feet Under once said, “Cooking is alchemy!”

So tonight was one of those lean nights. After work, a 10-minute shopping spree and $20 later, I was on the way home tonight with only a couple of items to throw in a frying pan for dinner with nothing else in the fridge worth mentioning. Or so I thought. At this point, I still only had the vaguest idea of what this concoction would be. I knew it would be some version of a stir fry over some brown rice noodles I’d had sitting in the cupboard for awhile. Stir fry’s, particularly, have become our best friend. They are quick, easy, and we’ve found that just about anything works when cooked together and thrown over rice, quinoa, or noodles.

To start off with, I cut up a white onion and let it fry in the pan with a generous portion of low sodium soy sauce and a good dash of vegetable stock. I washed a carton of pre-cut mushrooms and stirred to steam cook with the onions. Hmm. Still looked empty. And rather unappealing, not to mention tasteless. The mouth-feel likewise would have been atrocious.

So, back to the fridge.

There were all manners of odds and ends. Hmm. Half a zucchini? Why not. Leftover yellow squash? Sure! A dash of turmeric. A bouquet of cilantro. Chopped up leftovers of a red bell pepper. The last few leaves of a bunch of kale from last week. A not so subtle sprinkle of garlic powder.

Aahhh. Getting there. Smelled quite intriguing.

Ah well, I was hungry, and the rice noodles were waiting. I took the pan off the stove, ready to serve. That was until I stumbled over the package of soyrizo (vegan chorizo, or spicy sausage) laying on the counter. I had bought it specifically as the star of the show and had forgotten all about it! I had seen it so many times at the market, so tonight I gave in to the urge to give it a go.

Snip snip of the plastic casing. I squeezed the pulpy innards into the pan, and stirred until everything was piping hot again. Hmm, what else was missing? I rummaged through the spice cupboard. A container of black sesame seeds winked at me. A good few shakes went into the pan, and stirred.

DinnerAh. Dinner yet? I poured the cooked concoction over the noodles. I then sat down to one of the best impromptu meals I’ve ever made. I even managed to make three meals out of the mixture to carry us through the next couple of very busy days. I had slapped together a creation that I had completely made up as I went along. Something I’ve learned to excel in.

Why is it the greatest things we make or do are usually done by the seat of our pants? Best part of tonight’s dinner is, it was completely vegan, organic, and gluten-free (well, except for the soy sauce). It was colorful, tasty, bright, and I would definitely make again!

By the way, it was the first time I’d ever had brown rice noodles. L.O.V.E. I could almost give up pasta completely with this stuff! I am still a pasta junkie trying to dry out my addiction, though.

And thus it goes, these days, as my companion and I forage through our pantry and fridge in lean, pre-market spree times to generate something to keep us fed between work, class, and sleep. And we never disappoint each other. What’s in your mystery meals? Ever had one become an instant favorite?

Bon apetit, friends!

A personal look back at the year that was 2012

As I tentatively begin to step into the pristine landscape of 2013 and leave my footsteps behind me, it seems inevitable that I would look back at the past 12 months and contemplate the year that was 2012.

What a whirlwind year it was, after pulling myself out of a personal year-long hell in 2011. I’m healthy. I’m happy. And even my blogs have gotten better over a year’s time. I’ve started a Facebook page. I’ve even begun my education at a second school. I’ve tried strange things, such as cactus pads in my salad, and making raw foods. I even made kale chips in my new dehydrator. I have vastly improved my personal yoga practice. The other day, I found myself actually giving sound nutrition suggestions to people “coming down with something.” It surprised me that I had it in me!

Thanksgiving got strange at our house. It was a "Wok"-y holiday, and cooked lots of stuff I'd never heard of before.
Me cooking this year, something I did a LOT of in 2012. One thing I love about nutrition, is applying it in the kitchen. Thanksgiving got strange at our house. It was a “Wok”-y holiday, and I cooked lots of stuff I’d never heard of before. And it was all healthy and good for you.

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It’s amazing what a year can do for you.

For instance, this year has been a year of learning new things. As a health and nutrition nut, here is a list of personal buzz words I’ve welcomed into my vocabulary in 2012:

– Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
– Organic
– Processed foods
– Omegas (3s, and 6s)
– Farmer’s market
– Fad Diets
– Paleo
– Plant-based diets (Raw, Vegan, Vegetarian)
– “Eat the rainbow!”
– GMOs
– Pesticides/herbicides
– Documentaries
– Allopathic/Holistic
– Supplements
– (Essential) Nutrients
– Legumes
– Diet-related illnesses (Diabetes, cancer, hypertension/high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease)
– Obesity epidemic
– Lactose intolerance
– Deficiencies/Toxicity (vitamins, minerals, water)
– Empty calories
– Nutrient dense foods
– Sustainability
– Grow gardens, not lawns
– Heirloom seeds
– Free radicals/antioxidants
– “Let food be thy medicine”
– Hippocrates, the father of medicine
– Functional foods
– Protein, lipids, and carbs
– Soy
– Macro/micro nutrients
– Artificial sweeteners
– Folate
– BMI
– ATP
– HDL/LDL
– Phytochemicals
– RDA
– TCA Cycle
– Contaminants

I am pretty sure there are hundreds more, too. But these are just those off of the top of my head. Any of them sound familiar to you?

It’s amazing to me that I’ve discovered that much over just 12 months. And 2013 looks just as promising. Recently, I closed my eyes and jumped into nominating myself as a student delegate for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Student Advisory Council. Now, let me clarify: I have NEVER been on a committee in my entire life. I haven’t felt passionate about anything in my 30 years of life to want to join a committee related to it. But this year, I gave it a whirl. I am getting tired of all the books and online tests, and no real-world application or interacting with others who share my passions. Besides these blogs (which I’ve fallen behind on writing of late), I don’t feel like I am reaching enough people to make an impact with all of this amazing knowledge I continue to acquire. I can’t WAIT to start making a difference.

For now, though, I await the long, arduous process in store for me before I know whether I am chosen to serve on the council starting in June. Phew! Wish me luck, guys.

A friend of mine told me that 2013 was “going to be my year.” We’ll see what happens. The journey of 2013 so far looks pretty tame. I will be finishing my holistic nutrition program in June. I’ll peck through a few more required courses for my traditional dietician technician program, and maybe start making cards and practice some holistic nutrition counseling by the end of the year. I even kicked around the idea of starting a really basic online magazine. This time next year, though, I think I will start yoga instructor training. I want to get my that Western herbalism program under my belt, but – ah, one thing at a time.

So this year, I want to take a tai chi class. I want to travel. I want to cook and try foods I’ve never heard of before. I want to blog about topics that intrigue me, with touching prose. I want to take beautiful pictures. I want to dig out my three-year-old raised beds out of my garage, and finally start my little garden. I want to meditate. I’d love to learn how to crochet. I’d like to finish at least one cross stitch project. I want to have fun. I want to enjoy this year’s journey.

Viva la 2013!!!