Saturday, July 28, 2012

Kick Your Food Up A Notch!

Catchy title? Or lame? :) 

Regardless, check out the new issue of Total Wellness Magazine: Kick Your Food Up a Notch!
I'm a contributing writer for this publication that comes out twice a quarter here at UCLA. We're a division of the Student Government, which allows us to distribute print versions to students for free! Here is a link to the online version that everyone can have access to. 

I wrote two articles in this issue:

 The first is about Stair Climbing in Los Angeles--it first addresses some of the benefits of stair climbing as exercise, then lists some cool places stair-filled workouts and hikes around the city. I actually want to try a few of them out! Writing about this topic was really educational for me; although I always get tired and sore if I have to climb a bunch of stairs, I never went out of my way to use them for the purpose of exercise. I definitely want to incorporate them more into workouts!
a quick screenshot; click on the magazine link to read an electronic version!

 My second article is about different types of whole grains--Amaranth, Kamut, Teff, etc. I tried to focus on lesser-known types of grains, so hopefully people will find this one educational as well! I talk about the origins of each type of grain, popular uses, and specific nutritional benefits. Check it out!! :)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Fresh Rainbow Chard

I couldn't resist these at the farmer's market. Just couldn't.
Aren't they just the most beautiful color?!?

First I cut off the tough stems from each piece:

Then stir-fried them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder!
they kind of turned out dark and not appetizing-looking...but I can attest that this was really tasty! Pan-frying the chard results in a somewhat crispy yet tender dish, and I definitely like it more than steaming the vegetable.

Round 2: with caramelized onions, mushrooms, and colorful cherry tomatoes

 served atop a bed of lettuce and lentils. Healthiest and tastiest dinner I've had in a while!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Salmon, for the first time

I haven't gone grocery shopping in a week, and was worried I wouldn't have anything to eat in my apartment....but then I remembered that I had frozen salmon steaks in the freezer! Yes, saved!!

This was the first time I've made salmon on my own.

 I dressed it simply, with lemon juice, salt, and pepper, then pan-fried it for a few minutes on each side. It was pretty good!

sometimes simple is best.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ideas for Asparagus: Part II

Last time I posted about my delicious asparagus. I was so enthusiastic about that asparagus that I bought 3 bunches at the farmer's market. Luckily they were picked just that morning, so I saved this bunch in my fridge for an entire week and it was still crisp! I just cut the ends and stuck the stalks in a cup of water right away so the asparagus could keep "drinking" water while in the fridge, which kept it pretty fresh!

Last time it turned out delicious so I thought I would just sauté it again...

...but ended up adding more veggies!
onions, shredded carrots, and mushrooms, oh my!

It made a delicious stir-fry on top of brown rice. 
I couldn't even tell that the asparagus was old!

yums :)

So glad I got to experiment with this veggie! I'll definitely be using it more in the future, now that I know how to cook it!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ideas with Asparagus, Part I

Last Saturday morning: After trying out a yoga class with my friend Olivia (which was, by the way, the best yoga experience I've ever had!), we stopped by the Santa Monica Farmer's Market. It was so difficult for me to limit my spending to what I could carry back to the car in my two hands! 

My favorite find, though, was:
the freshest asparagus I'd ever seen!!
(excuse the unartistic picture; I was too excited when I bought it and forgot to take a nice picture!)

Once we got back to my apartment, however, we realized that neither of us had cooked asparagus before. Whoops. We were over-enthusiastic at the market! Olivia mentioned that they would taste great grilled but I don't have a grill in my apartment. Instead, I decided to sauté it.

And it turned out delicious! It was so simple - after rinsing and chopping the stalks in half, I just heated up olive oil on my nonstick pan, and sautéed them up with some lemon juice, garlic powder, salt and pepper. I really enjoyed this dish because the subtle seasonings allowed the asparagus flavor to shine! These stalks were so fresh; they had just been picked earlier that morning. This was most definitely the most tender yet crispy asparagus I've ever had...I attribute it to the quality of the vegetable and the care that the farmer put into growing it.

We ate the asparagus with along with a side of quinoa/chickpea/cilantro/cumin/carrot/celery mixture (basically whatever I had in stock) with some perfectly ripe and juicy green tomatoes that I also picked up at the Farmer's Market.

the meal

happy; it was a good morning :)

 sooo fresh and delicious!!

note: We bought 3 bundles (only 1 was pictured in the top picture) so I had some leftover! 
Next post: what I did with the next batch.

Black Bean Quinoa Patties

I've never had a veggie burger. Ever. In my entire life. (Most have tofu, which I'm allergic to!)
So, understandably, when I saw this recipe I was a little skeptical...yet intrigued! It just looked so good and I had to try it.

They turned out pretty good! The patties are definitely flavorful and filling. They were a bit dry, but I discovered that they taste absolutely amazing when topped with hummus! I had these patties with eggplant hummus from TJ's for dinner that night, then for lunch and dinner the next day as well :)

note: I don't have a food processor so I modified the recipe a bit.

Black Bean Quinoa Patties
adopted from here
- 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
-1/2 cup finely chopped carrots (I used the shredded carrots from Trader Joe's)
-1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
-1/4 cup blended raw oats
-1 large egg
-1/4 cup chopped onion
-1/2 tablespoon garlic powder (or more if you really like it!)

-1 tablespoon ground cumin
-1 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon pepper
-2 tablespoons olive oil

In a small pot, boil 3/4 cup water. Add the quinoa, cover, reduce to low heat. Cook until all the water is absorbed (around 12 minutes) and set aside.

Using a blender, grind up the oats to make a coarse powder. 

In a large bowl, combine the oat powder, quinoa, beans, and eggs. Mix well, crushing the beans if possible (not necessary). Add the garlic powder, chopped onion, cumin, salt, and peper. Mix until you get a chunky paste; if it's too dry add another egg.
(it looks kind of gross, I know! But keep going, it gets better!)

Using your hands (this is the fun part!) form the mixture into four patties. They should hold together pretty well on their own; I was able to lift them up and flip them without them falling apart.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium. Let the first side cook until brown, then flip until the other side is brown as well.'re done! Spread hummus on top for extra moisture and taste. 
I ate the patties over a bed of mixed greens, but if you have a bun, you can serve it with that + cheese + toppings. Salsa would be delicious as well.

Enjoy! I'll definitely be making more veggie burgers in the future :)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Soft Almond Butter Oatmeal Cookies

When I'm procrastinating on schoolwork, I bake.

I was craving cookies...but I didn't have many ingredients in my apartment! (read as: no eggs, flour, or butter) I threw some stuff together, hoping it would turn out somewhat edible.

And they were!

I actually decided to leave them in the oven for only 6 minutes because it was pretty warm outside and I didn't want to heat up the apartment too much. But the result was pretty cool.....

....half-way baked chewy cookies! The bottom was cooked and firm enough to hold the cookie together, but the top half was still soft and chewy. Yum! It was almost like oatmeal-raisin cookie dough, but without any risk of salmonella from raw eggs - all the ingredients are okay to eat plain! 

It was definitely a pleasant surprise. 

This was seriously the easiest, simplest, and quickest way to satisfy my cookie craving. Plus, they're healthy enough to eat for breakfast! (And I did eat them for breakfast the next day) ;) Enjoy!

Soft Almond Butter Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup oats
1/2 cup almond butter (or any butter of your preference)
1 banana, mashed
4 tablespoons ground flaxseed
2 tablespoons sugar / sugar substitute
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
handful of raisins

Mix all the ingredients together in a medium bowl. Spoon into 1.5-inch mounds on a cookie sheet and place in the oven. I baked them for 6 minutes at 350 degrees; depending on your oven I would say to bake them anywhere from 5-10 minutes. Cool, then eat - they're good warm! Makes about 10-12 little cookies :)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fried Quinoa

I'm Chinese. Fried rice is pretty typical fare. I actually didn't grow up eating too much of it, although my mom would make it once in a while. Us kids would love it and would finish off an entire pot for dinner.

I was hungry when I got back from lab meeting today. Super hungry, and was craving comfort food! I didn't want to heat up the apartment and turn on the oven to bake something or leave the stove on for a long time to make a stew. So then I remembered my childhood love of fried rice...and a brilliant thought came into my head: why not make fried quinoa?? I actually don't have soy sauce in my apartment yet (yes I know, a disgrace to my Chinese heritage!!) so I modified the flavors of the dish.

The process was pretty simple; I first stir-fried the veggies and made the quinoa in a rice cooker, then tossed it all together in the pan with some oil to crisp it up! 

Fried Quinoa
1/2 cup broccoli florettes (I get the bagged kind from Trader Joe's and break them into smaller pieces)
handful of shredded carrots
stalk of chopped celery
1/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
(you can use any veggies you want; these were just the ones in my fridge that I threw together! It would taste really good with some bell peppers or even peas and creative and resourceful!)
1/2 cup quinoa
chicken broth or water
olive oil
salt & pepper

1. Cook the quinoa! I put 1/2 cup (about 1 serving size) into the rice cooker and poured in chicken broth (or you can use water) up to the 1 cup line. Quinoa absorbs a lot of liquid so you want to use twice as much as you would use for the same amount of rice!

2. Chop the veggies up into similar-sized pieces. I made mine small enough so that I could use a spoon to eat this dish.

3. Stir-fry away! A tip that I learned from my mom: don't add all the veggies in at once. After the oil is hot, put the slower-cooking veggies in first, then add the others slowly. This is common sense but it's essential to cooking the veggies correctly! I actually steamed the broccoli before adding it to the pan so that it softened up a bit. This is the order I added the ingredients I used: celery, carrots, mushrooms, then steamed broccoli. Season with salt and pepper. I actually covered the pan for a few minutes after seasoning to let the veggies cook a bit more intensely and for the flavors to come out.

4. After the quinoa is done (the magic of a rice cooker: you just leave it in there until it beeps!!) open the lid and let the steam out of the rice cooker. Add the cumin (as much as you desire) directly into the rice bowl and mix well.

5. Add the quinoa directly into the pan with the stir-fried veggies. Turn the heat on high and mix it all up. This will get rid of any soggy-ness of the quinoa and crisp it up nicely. It also helps distribute the flavors!

6. Serve and eat up :) I sprinkled black sesame seeds on top for an extra crunch!

(instagraming it up)


Monday, July 2, 2012

R.S.V.P - P.S.

An interesting article from the NY Times:
"The Picky Eater who came to Dinner"

It basically addresses the growing number of people who choose to omit certain foods from their diet and how it's often difficult for hosts to accommodate all these special "needs." People identify themselves as "gluten free," "vegan," or "paleo," which is different than past diet fads. It's interesting, though, to think of their motivations behind their lifestyle changes - not everybody is actually allergic or even sensitive to these foods. These specialized eating habits started out on a smaller scale; I remember when I became gluten-free during middle school (I have gluten intolerance) people thought it was the weirdest thing ever when I didn't eat pizza or bread! But now we can find gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, egg-free, almost anything-free foods at mainstream supermarkets. Is this a trend? Or are these lifestyle changes going to be permanent? 

How do you feel about the issues this article raises?


on a slightly less serious note, I found this on my sister's tumblr:

hah. so true.