Friday, March 26, 2010

Thai Coconut Fish Sticks with Soup

This lovely dish was inspired by Ali from Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen. You can find the recipe here. I took a big step over winter break and bought some fish at Whole Foods to experiment with. I am rather new to cooking fish, but after reading Nourishing Traditions and all of the health literature I constantly immerse myself in, I have come to the conclusion that our family does not eat enough fish! Well, I knew that for a long time, but this is the first time I've actually done something about it! This was one baby step in the right direction-- we need to have fish in our diets! The tough part is getting my Mom to continue when I am at school (she is a great cook, but not as adventurous as I am), while also convincing my Dad and brother G that fish besides canned tuna really is delicious!

I happened to think that this recipe was a total success, but the boys did not agree with me so much. They are so new to the idea of fish - even fish sticks was too radical for them! It will take a lot of tries (and probably several different recipes) before they get used to eating more fish. They did conclude that the coconut topping would great on chicken. Hmph, fish is just chicken of the sea, right? My mom and I really loved the dish, however, and will definitely be making it again. I especially liked it because I had an excuse to dip them in some ketchup, of which I am a huge fan!

My Dad would like you to know that this was his plate that I photographed. I had already demolished the good presentation on mine. His plate featured rice with sauce on top. But I opted for no nice and instead had a bed of spinach with a bowl of soup on the side!

Coconut Thai fish sticks
Spicy Coconut Thai sauce/soup

Fish sticks
2 wild-caught yellowfin tuna steaks, cut into thick strips
2 wild-caught swordfish steaks, cut into thick strips
^or use 4 fish steaks of choice
organic coconut oil, as needed - for frying
1 cup shredded organic coconut
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp arrowroot powder
1 tsp Thai Kitchen green curry paste
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Sauce or soup
1 can organic coconut milk, not lite
1 stick REAL butter - will probably reduce next time
4 cups organic chicken stock/broth - I use Imagine or Pacific brand (make sure there is no MSG!)
*Spices to taste: tumeric, black pepper, sea salt, cayenne pepper

To make your fish sticks and dipping sauce or side soup:
1. Take your fish steaks from the package, rinse them in cold water and cut them into desired shapes. I did sticks, but quarter sized square "bites" would be a fun option as well!
2. In a large bowl, mix arrowroot and water, whisking well an adding spices.
3. In a small bowl, add coconut.
4. Heat up a skillet (do not use non-stick - you need to hear the sizzle!) on medium-high heat, and place about 2 Tbsp of coconut oil in to start with.
5. Making an assembly line, take prepared fish and dunk thoroughly in arrowroot/spice liquid, and then into the coconut, being sure to coat all sides of the fish. Don't worry if the arrowroot begins to "fall out" of the liquid. Just give it a whisk and continue to dunk. It will not stay suspended unless you heat it - which I did not do.
6. Place the fish in the skillet and cook until half of the fish is cooked through and has browned slightly on one side, then flip to finish cooking on the other side. Continue in batches until all the fish is done. Keep the ones that are done warm in the oven.
7. While the fish is frying, assemble the ingredients for the soup. Bring chicken stock to a boil and add butter, coconut milk and spices and turn to a low simmer, being sure to stir frequently, until the fish is done.
8. Serve your fish sticks with ketchup, garnished with some fresh parsley or cilantro. Place the fish on top of a bed of rice or greens, and ladel the soup as a sauce on top or serve it in bowls on the side. I also served oven roasted carrots with this recipe. Enjoy!

*I am sorry that I don't have exact measurements here. I found the recipe waiting to be blogged in my saved posts list and I do not remember the actual amounts I once used. As a rule, when adding spices, go light. Add each spice one at a time and adjust at each addition accordingly. Spicing dishes does not have to be scary! Once you try it a couple of times, you get used to how much of a certain spice suits your taste. If you are not used to spicing dishes from scratch (like my Mom) all you have to do is practice. Go slow and enjoy the excitement!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Breakfast Ideas

Sometimes I feel like I am stuck in a rut when it comes to breakfast. The normal person tends to grab anything they want, and they usually do not even care about it's nutritional value! But since I have a different food philosophy, I know that this is not an option. I want to eat food that nourishes my body. Food that is gluten free and soy free, local, sustainable. REAL traditional foods that our grandma's and grandpa's used to enjoy. Nothing that's packaged, genetically modified or is something you can't pronounce. Food that is traceable back to it's source. Food in its simplest possible form. Food that is alive, not dead.

Nutrient dense, healthy and delicious food is what I crave. I don't eat wheat, or soy. I avoid sugar and conventional dairy products like the plague. I don't eat very many grains. Most surprising thing of all? I don't miss it, and I don't focus on the food I can not or will not eat. There is so much REAL food out there in the world! Vegetables, raw dairy, cultured/fermented food, properly raised meats, traditionally prepared whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds, real fats, real eggs. The list goes on!

When it comes to breakfast, I love to chop things up and throw it all together in a bowl to savor - there are so many flavors, why not have fun? But when not doing a breakfast bowl, I love to have roasted vegetables and eggs (fried, scrambled, baked) for breakfast.

My favorites list:

goat whole milk yogurt
raw whole milk
cinnamon + other spices
rice protein powder
raspberries, blueberries, strawberries
dried apples
cocoa nibs
organic coconut flakes
raw honey
organic maple syrup
walnuts, almonds, macademias, pecans, brazil nuts, peanuts, hazelnuts
sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed, chia seeds
soaked granola

The mix in the above picture is: warmed and crumbled Upside-down Creamy Sweet Potato Breakfast cake, with fresh raspberries, goat milk yogurt, cocoa nibs, organic coconut flakes, cinnamon, pinch salt, raisins, and chia seeds. Delicious! Buying a few ingredients and mixing them up makes the combinations endless :) It stops the boredom of breakfast on a budget short!
And this? This you say? THIS is my very first Green Monster (smoothie). I have heard so much about it from Kath's and Emily's and Sarah's blogs that I just had to take the plunge! I used my handy dandy Hamilton Beach multipurpose hand blender - so the consistency was not super smooth, but after a little bit of a fight, it worked!!

Green Monster

The components:

~3 cups spinach - I have no idea because I was stuffing my tupperware full (thanks cafe!)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped cucumber
some scallions (yes I am that adventurous even on the first time!)
1 frozen small banana
~2 oz goat milk yogurt
aloe vera juice for liquid

To make your green monster:
1. Place all ingredients in blender, or bowl.
2. Blend on high until mixed together!
3. Eat with a spoon or pour into a glass! Enjoy.

This was for today's lunch. I made a lot and couldn't finish it all! You might notice that the recipe is lacking protein-- I opted to have 2 HB eggs on the side instead of going for my rice protein powder. I have to admit that my first Green Monster wasn't a total success, but I loved how it gave me so many good nutrients and is easy to digest on my tummy. I will be experimenting further in the future!!

By the way, my phone is dead/has officially died. Pray for me as I navigate the world without technology. It's more difficult than you would realize!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Power Outages and Omelettes

Once upon a time, the power went out at Biola. So, we went to my friend N's house and I got to make some breakfast. My friends R + K were so wonderful and they let me make them an omelette. They gave me full creative freedom [insert Hallelujah Chorus here]. They said it was delicious!

Here were the components - try to replicate it in your own homes!

Baby Spinach - chopped
Cherry tomatoes
Feta cheese
Parmesan cheese
Cayenne Pepper
Sea Salt
Black Pepper

Bon Appetit!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Nourished Breakfast

Mhmm... don't we all need a good start to the day every now and then? I feel that breakfast is the highest offender in terms of nutrition in the typical American diet. Grains, sugar, industrial fats, processed dairy, empty calories. Those of us who have discovered real food have found a more nourishing and tastier way to eat. Why did we ever eat that other stuff before?

I whipped up this recipe this afternoon after a long day of class - prelab - lab. Lab was an adventure, I got to see my heart beat, because we did EKGs! In one portion of the procedure, we had to raise our heart rate to see the difference between that and resting state. I had to run out of the building and around a part of campus to get my heart rate up enough! (I had electrodes stuck to both legs and one arm, and I took off my Rainbows so I could run easier -- I must have been a funny sight to watch: a crazy girl running barefoot around campus with funny things stuck to her arms and legs!) I tried doing stairs but soon after my heart returned to normal rate. I am happy to have a healthy heart!

This is very similar to my breakfast carrot creation, and my fruity vegan oatmeal bake. I like doing these nourishing breakfast "quick breads." They are easy to make and give me an easy option for a college student breakfast on the go. This version uses roasted sweet potatoes, which I surprisingly happened to have on hand.

Upside-down Creamy Sweet Potato breakfast cake
(It's kinda like baked oatmeal meets sweet potatoes! and you know me, I always must have some creative name.)

2 cups soured raw milk + 1 1/2 cups GF rolled oats - mix well, place in glass jar, cover loosely with a dishtowel, set in an undisturbed spot to ferment and soak for 3 whole days
1 cup pureed sweet potatoes - mine were cooked and I even pureed the skin
1/2 cup melted organic coconut oil
1 medium banana
1/4 scant cup raw honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup organic coconut flour
1/2 cup raisins
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 handful chopped roasted/salted macademia nuts
2 Tbsp real butter - cut into chunks
1/2 cup shredded organic coconut

To make your nourishing breakfast:
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
2. To your fermented oats add: sweet potato, banana, vanilla, raw honey and coconut oil. Puree well with a hand blender. I added my raw honey to my melted [warm] coconut oil to help make it more blendable.
3. In a separate large bowl, add: coconut flour, raisins*, leaveners, cinnamon, salt. Toss well with fingers until distributed.
4. In a 8x8 pan, rub some butter or spray with Misto to lubricate the pan on all sides especially the bottom. Place chopped macademia nuts on the bottom of the pan, followed by coconut and then distributed the chunks of butter evenly on top.
5. Combine wet oat mixture with raisin-flour mixture and stir well to combine.
6. Using several large spoonfuls, dollop the mixture on top of the coconut into the pan. Spread out evenly with a spatula, being careful not to disturb the bottom!
7. Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes depending on your oven. The cake will be risen, set, have cracks and sound "bubbly," with the sides pulling away from the pan. Take out and let cool on the counter overnight. Cake will fall in or "rest" slightly. Wait to cut it until the morning, it's gooey inside :) When you take it out of the pan, flip it over and find the nuts and coconut all buttery and delicious on the bottom.

*It's important to mix the raisins with the flour. If you skip this step and just fold them in, then they will fall to the bottom of the pan while baking.

-Update 3/14/10-
This cake is dense and has a really cream consistency! I totally tastes like sweet potato! I might even try pumpkin next time! The texture is so smooth you can't even tell it has oats in it! It actually kinda reminded me of fudge :) It is not sweet, so I would suggest adding in some stevia drops and swapping the raw honey for a full 1/4 cup of organic maple syrup. The macademia nuts kinda get lost in the sweet potato flavor, so next time I will swap them for a more flavor assertive nut, like pecans or walnuts. It also seems that 1 Tbsp of cinnamon was not enough!! I will increase the amount and also add some allspice and nutmeg to warm up the flavor a bit. I definitely want more raisins too! This is totally a work in progress recipe, though some of you might like it just the way it is. Normally I wouldn't post a recipe until it's ready, but cooking is fun, and we can all learn together! Also, this recipe is a success, the flavors are just lacking a little bit, and that is easily fixed. I think the best way to eat this cake is how I did this morning - warmed for 40 seconds in the microwave (or even better use a toaster oven!) topped with real butter, extra raisins, sliced banana, cinnamon and raw cocoa nibs. Delish!

-Update 3/15/10-
I had my friend K taste test my creation. She absolutely loved it, and said she wouldn't change a thing! Her favorite part was the gooey cake part in contrast to the crunchy and chewy raisins and nuts.

I love Friday nights. I try to let it be my time to do "nothing." At least nothing having to do with school! This is my first baking endeavor of the semester. Hopefully it won't be my last, but it is time consuming and it's March (typically the month of HW horror).

Spring break is the first week of April. We have a beach house (temporarily, no we didn't buy one), and it has a kitchen! Success :) There will be cooking!!

Enjoy your yummy new breakfast option; feel free to experiment and tell me what you think!