Saturday, July 25, 2015

miso butternut pasta

After roasting a butternut squash and eating one half in some power salad macro bowls, I knew the other half was destined for a pasta. But it wasn't until I was at the grocery store about to buy some vegetable broth (for the pasta sauce) that I realized I could probably just use miso broth. And I already had some miso paste in my fridge! Miso paste is great for adding tons of savory flavor to dressings, sauces, or soups. I just usually end up using it when making some sort of Asian style dish. But why not in an Italian dish? Globalization happening right in the kitchen.

miso butternut pasta
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small sweet onion
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups roasted butternut squash, cubed
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 Tbsp white miso paste
  • your choice of pasta
  • something green to serve with it! I chose steamed broccoli

I roasted my butternut squash previously so it was ready and in the fridge, but it you haven't, this needs to be done first! Just cut squash into quarters and roast it on a baking sheet at 400 F until tender, about 40 minutes. When the squash is cool enough, peel away the skin and cut into cubes.

Dice the onion and garlic and saute in olive oil until soft.

Combine the hot water and miso paste in a bowl and whisk to combine.

In a high speed blender combine prepared squash, onions and garlic, miso broth, and nutritional yeast. Blend on high until super smooth.

Transfer sauce into a pan and heat it up (preferably the same pan used to saute onions and garlic, to save a dish!).

Cook the pasta according to the package and prepare chosen green veggies. I steamed the broccoli in a steamer basket over the pasta, getting two things done at once! I made enough pasta for just the two of us but there should be enough sauce for up to four servings of pasta.

Toss pasta with heated sauce and top with greens and fresh cracked pepper, enjoy and be nourished.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

homemade sauerkraut

Well, I did it. I fermented something! And it worked! This is going to be the beginning of something, I can tell. I have already started looking for a fermenting crock on Amazon! I have started with the simplest sauerkraut (just cabbage and salt) and will get more creative from here.

So let's break it down. The fermentation that takes place to produce sauerkraut is done by a natural bacteria that is present on fresh produce. The bacteria feed on sugar and starch, ultimately breaking down the food. So, why is this good for you? Number one, cooking veggies kills this good bacteria. Number two, fermented vegetables are easier to digest. This bacteria is a beneficial one, one that helps our digestion and keeps our gut in tip top shape. By eating fermented foods we are getting all of the benefits of eating something raw (i.e. delicate nutrients that are otherwise killed during cooking) but because it is partially broken down, it is easier for us to digest!

Fermented foods have also been linked to other health benefits, such as a strong immune system, reduced inflammation, and weight loss and maintenance. I would suggest doing some research of your own because I am no expert. Here are a few articles to get you started: health benefits of fermented foods, health benefits of sauerkraut, and the real reason your gut needs fermented foods. There is tons of information out there and it is all good news about fermented foods :)

homemade sauerkraut
  • 1 medium head of cabbage (purple or green, or a combination of both. I went with combination because I love the fuchsia color it makes!) 
  • 4-5 tsp salt
Chop up cabbage and place in a large mixing bowl. I was worried that 5 tsp salt would be too much because I read a few different recipes that were all slightly different and went by weight. I don't have a kitchen scale so I had to estimate. And it turned out perfect :)

Massage the salt into the cabbage until it softens and starts to release some water. This is called the brine and is essential for a safe fermentation. The saltwater brine protects the cabbage from oxygen and therefore growing mold or any unwanted bacteria. 
When the cabbage looks wilted, as in the photo above, cover with a kitchen towel and let it sit for about an hour. 
Transfer the cabbage to a clean jar with a wide mouth, one handful at a time. It is essential that your hand can fit inside the jar because with every handful you need to pack it down as tight as you can, in the end making sure that all the cabbage is covered in brine. Now you need to weigh it down. I used a small jelly jar filled with water and pressed it down inside the big jar. 

The fermentation needs to happen at a certain temp so find a place that is dark and not too hot. I placed mine in a dish in case it overflowed during fermentation, which is exactly what happened! Cover with a kitchen towel so no dust or bacteria can find it. 

After about three days I cleaned it up a bit. There may be foam forming on the top that can be scraped off. I also had a little taste! Pretty good! At this point it wasn't going to overflow anymore so I took it out of the dish and covered it with a coffee filter instead. 

I kept my kraut out on the counter for 8 days. It was much better than at 4 days! The minimum for fermenting sauerkraut is 3 days and it can actually go for months. This was the benefit of fermented foods long ago, no need for refrigeration! I am always afraid of growing unwanted bacteria though, mostly because of the hot weather here! Next time I'll leave it out longer and be a little more adventurous! 

This sauerkraut is sooo good on any kind of salad, sandwich, or even by its self!  Once desired fermentation is reached store it in the refrigerator.

Please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or fermenting experiences of your own! I am new at this so still learning and I would love some advice! Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

vietnamese cold noodle bowl

Honolulu is hot. The area we live in is called Kaimuki and literally translates to "the ti oven". If you have been following my instagram you may have seen a post about all the power salad bowls I have been creating lately. This is because sometimes it's just too damn hot to cook!

Despite the scorching heat, we love Kaimuki. We are just blocks away from tons of great restaurants, coffee shops, yoga studios, and boutiques! One of our new favorite places to eat is a little Vietnamese restaurant called Saigon. The cold noodle bowl blew my mind. So naturally, I recreated it at home. Or at least something close to it. The bowl at Saigon had baked bbq tofu (amazing), the traditional sweet chili dressing, and peanuts on top. I used plain fried tofu and I didn't have any peanuts so I made a peanut dressing instead!

peanut dressing
  • 2 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1" piece of ginger
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp chili flakes 
Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth. For a sweeter sauce, add 1-2 tsp raw sugar.
As for the rest of the bowl...
  • shredded cabbage and lettuce
  • vermicelli noodles, cooked or soaked  according to the package
  • shredded or noodled carrots
  • tofu cut into strips
  • cilantro or Thai basil
  • mung bean sprouts 

The amounts of these ingredients all depends on your personal preference. More lettuce and cabbage makes for more of a salad but more noodles makes more of a meal. Be creative! I constructed my bowl as follows:

lettuce and cabbage on the bottom layer

then the vermicelli noodles

noodled carrots, tofu, and herbs...

bean sprouts and peanut dressing!

Perfect for a hot Hawaiian summer day. Or any day :)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

christmas in july balls

A.k.a. cinnamon tahini energy balls. Tom thinks that anything with cinnamon in it is Christmassy. Fair enough, it is a very festive spice. But I am a cinnamon-everyday-of-the-year kind of girl. I put it in my coffee, my smoothies, and my granola. It was while making my cinnamon + tahini granola that I got the idea for these balls! And since I had all the ingredients (most of them already out on the counter) I made them while the granola was in the oven. And they turned out amazing! I think they are my favorite energy ball yet!

Christmas in July balls
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • dash of salt
  • 1 cup soaked dates
  • 4 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 

Start by grinding the almonds in a food processor until they are well chopped.

Next add the oats and a dash of salt. Pulse until ground into a course meal. 

Transfer the oat/almond mixture into a bowl and set aside. Add remaining ingredients to the processor and blend until smooth (or almost smooth). Add the dry oat/almond mixture a little bit at a time and pulse to combine. You may have to mix the last bit by hand.

Nice. At this stage I like to pop it in the fridge to chill a bit. This just makes it easier to handle, but it isn't necessary. Roll into little energy balls and enjoy! Store in the fridge, eat regularly, and pretend it's Christmas... in July.