Monthly Archives: May 2012

Island Teryiaki Stir-Fry

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Island Teriyaki Stir-Fry

The first thing I want to mention in this post is that I’m officially a college graduate! Okay, maybe not quite official because I still have one more class to take this summer, but I participated in the event anyway. Two weekends ago, I graduated along with my friends and classmates from UMass Amherst. I still find it unbelievable that four years have gone by since I started college. I know I’m getting older when I start asking myself, where did the time go? While it will be a bit of a pain to commute to a nearby university to take my summer class three times a week, it’s still somewhat of a  relief to me to have some free time before I jump right into my career. It also gives me some more time to actually figure out exactly what I want to do, because anybody who knows me well knows that I’m an incredibly indecisive person and am still in the process of pondering my future career.

The second thing I want to mention is that I recently had a photo of mine featured on Foodgawker for the first time! I logged onto WordPress a couple of weeks ago, not expecting anything exciting, when I saw that I suddenly had 1,000 more views than last time I checked a couple days earlier. I looked at Foodgawker to see if my most recent submission had been accepted, and sure enough, it had. With the craziness of graduation weekend approaching, I had almost forgotten I even submitted it. I remember telling my roommate Emily a few months ago that my goal was to have a photo featured on Foodgawker, not really believing it would happen any time soon. I realize many food bloggers have their recipes featured on Foodgawker all the time, but being new to the food blogging world, this is an exciting accomplishment for me 🙂 Click here if you want to see my submission on Foodgawker.

The week before I graduated, my brother Chris visited along with Mirva and Naomi. It was really nice to have them visit me in Amherst, and also to see my niece again. We had lunch at this awesome barbeque place near me called Bub’s BBQ (if you’re ever in the area, you have to try it out) and then I took them to a nearby waterfall. These photos are straight out of my camera, so I apologize for the dark and bleh colors.

cute little Naomi

Chris, Mirva, and Naomi

The waterfall

Mirva and Naomi

all bundled up

their dog Lily racing around

Onto the food: I’m a big fan of Asian food, particularly Chinese, Japanese, and Thai. My favorite meal that my mother makes is a simple stir-fry with chicken and lots of veggies over rice. I wanted to take that and give it an Asian twist. I recently found a stir-fry sauce I really love from Trader Joe’s called Island Soyaki Sauce. Stop and Shop carries a similar teriyaki sauce called Soy Vay Island Teriyaki Sauce, which is what I used for this recipe. I love these sauces because they have that classic salty and spicy teryiaki taste, with a hint of pineapple and honey.

Traditional Chinese stir-fry is prepared in a large, round-bottomed pan called a wok and the technique is similar to sautéing. My dad bought a wok when I was younger and used to love to cook us stir-fry using it. I don’t own a wok, so I used a regular frying pan. I chose to use tofu because I actually love it (weird, I know), but I’ve cooked this recipe with chicken before and that was good, too. Steak or pork would also work nicely. To use meat, simply follow the same directions (marinating, sautéing), but note that meat takes longer to cook than tofu and it may be easier to cook it separately and add it to the veggies at the end. Marinating is optional, but it really gives the tofu or meat more flavor.

Island Teriyaki Stir-Fry

Ingredients:
serves 2-3

  • 7 oz. firm or extra firm tofu (about half a package, which are typically 14 oz.)
  • 1/2 cup Trader Joe’s Island Soyaki Sauce (or soy/teriyaki sauce of your choice – or even make your own! I like this recipe.)
  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice (I used the quick-cooking kind that only takes 10 minutes, to save time)
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/8 tsp minced ginger (or powder, if minced is not available)
  • half a medium white onion, diced
  • 2/3 cup chopped broccoli
  • half a red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/3 cup chopped mushrooms (I used portabella)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • diced green onions and cilantro to garnish

veggies and tofu simmering away

add some brown rice

Directions:

  1. Slice tofu into strips and remove excess water by wrapping in a clean towel or paper towel and pressing down gently. Dice into 1-inch chunks, and place into a small plastic bag with teriyaki sauce. Toss to coat tofu evenly and place in refridgerator for 1-2 hours.
  2. When tofu is done marinating, cook brown rice according to package instructions. Cover and set aside.
  3. In a large frying pan, heat olive oil and add garlic and ginger.
  4. Add diced onions and broccoli cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then stir in diced red pepper, cooking for another couple minutes, and then mushrooms. Mushrooms generally cook quickly, while onions take longer. This method prevents your vegetables from cooking unevenly.
  5. Shortly after adding the mushrooms (2-3 minutes later), pour tofu and teriyaki sauce into pan. Make sure to get as much teriyaki sauce from the bag into the pan as possible. Add red pepper flakes.
  6. Cook for another 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cooked brown rice and cook for another 2 minutes. Garnish with green onions and cilantro and serve.

🙂

Ideas for a Healthier Breakfast

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Among many of my diet pitfalls is the egg and cheese breakfast sandwich. Sometimes there is nothing more satisfying or comforting to me than a fried egg topped with cheese and bacon and ketchup, sandwiched between a plump bagel. I also love bagels and cream cheese. Realistically, eating either of these everyday isn’t a good option in terms of my diet. However, I do try to incorporate some source of protein into my breakfast because it gets me going better than just a bowl of cereal or toast.

Eggs are a great source of protein, and are pretty versatile. So over the past few months, I started looking for ways to make my breakfast healthier, but still filling. I came up with a few tips that will hopefully help others out there, too. Breakfast sandwiches may have a reputation as being fatty and greasy, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

I came up with 5 things that were preventing my breakfast sandwich from being as healthy as it could be:

1. The bread
2. What I use to grease the pan with
3. The spread
4. The cheese
5. Ketchup

I revised my ingredients and came up with these substitutions:

1. The first step is to choose the type of bread you’ll be serving your sandwich on. Opt for English muffins (try Thomas’ Triple Health or Health-full 10 Grain) instead of bagels – I absolutely love bagels, but they are unfortunately loaded with carbs and calories. Another option is “sandwich thins”. Arnold and a few other bread companies have been creating bread and bagels that are thinner than average and usually only have 100 calories.

2. What you grease your pan with can make a big difference. I always used to just melt butter in a pan, but this isn’t really the healthiest option. Cooking sprays will save you some calories and many types are fat-free.

3. Next is what kind of spread you use on your breakfast sandwich. Lots of people don’t use a spread at all, but if you hate dry toasted bread like me, then you might be looking for an alternative to butter. I’ve been using a ripe avocado lately in place of butter. Even if you’re not a big fan of avocados, they have a very mild flavor when used in moderation and have a nice, buttery texture. Another option is to very lightly spray the bread with cooking spray.

4. Cheese is probably the fattiest part of my breakfast sandwiches. Again, plenty of people prefer not to use cheese on their sandwiches. I, however, can’t seem to get away from cheese so I’ve been looking for healthier types. Unfortunately there’s a bit of a trade-off with cheese between fat and being very processed. If you find a low-fat/low-calorie cheese, it’s possible it’s been processed a lot. If this isn’t an issue for you, there are plenty of fat-free cheeses in the dairy section at your grocery store. If you prefer to use a less-processed cheese, fresh parmesan, fresh mozzerella, or Swiss cheese are on the healthier end of the cheese spectrum.

5. If you like to use a sauce on your breakfast sandwich, go for hot sauce over ketchup. Ketchup is okay in moderation, but does have a good amount of sugar. A cayenne pepper sauce such as Frank’s RedHot is a good substitute. Sriracha Hot Chili sauce is another option.

*Another important aspect of a breakfast sandwich is how the egg is cooked. The steps above refer only to a fried egg or scrambled egg sandwich. Hard-boiled or poached eggs are the healthiest ways to cook an egg. I tend to not leave myself enough time in the morning to do either of these, but if you do have time, these methods will save you additional calories.
Also, vegetables are great additions to any sandwich. Spinach, peppers, or tomatoes compliment eggs nicely.
Here are some variations on breakfast sandwiches I’ve come up with:

This is one of my favorites. Top a fried egg with low-fat cheese, avocado slices and Frank’s RedHot, sandwiched between a 100-calorie English muffin using avocado also as the spread.

Tex-Mex: Top a fried egg with low-fat cheddar cheese, avocado, salsa, and a dollop of plain fat-free Greek yogurt.

Caprese: Top a fried egg with fresh mozzerella cheese, sliced tomato, and fresh chopped basil.

Maintaining a healthy diet is important to me, but I don’t think you have to sacrifice flavor just to lose weight. Remember that there are almost always options out there to make your diet nutritious and satisfying at the same time. 🙂

Homemade Peanut Butter

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Honey Cinnamon Peanut Butter

I recently learned how incredibly easy it is to make your own peanut butter at home. I’ve always been under the impression that homemade peanut butter was really chunky and gritty and bland, but I was totally wrong. I’ve been seeing a lot of recipes for homemade almond butter on foodgawker lately, but I’ve always been more of a peanut girl so I tried searching homemade peanut butter and came up with tons of results. One blog in particular really inspired me. The author has recipes for over 20 different types of homemade nut butters, using all different types of nuts and ingredients. I immediately knew I had to make my own, and it was so good that I don’t know if I will go back to store-bought.

Honey Cinnamon Peanut Butter (as adapted from edible perspective)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups lightly salted dry roasted peanuts
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1-2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, add 2 cups peanuts. Blend for about 10-15 minutes, scraping down the sides every few minutes or as needed. It will be really dry and clumpy at first, but as you keep blending and stirring, the natural oils will be released from the peanuts and they will start to get smooth and creamy.
  2. Add honey, cinnamon, brown sugar, and vanilla extract. These ingredients will make your peanut butter clumpy again, so it may be necessary to add canola oil to break it down. Continue to blend to desired consistency.

Yep, it is really as easy as that. As long as you make sure to scrape down the sides of the food processor every so often, you’ll eventually get a nice smooth peanut butter. I would recommend starting out with less honey and brown sugar than you think you’ll need, and taste it as you go along  and add more as needed.  If you’re not a fan of honey or sweetness at all, the plain peanut butter by itself tastes pretty damn good, too. Or you can substitute honey for regular sugar.