July Shenanigans & Recipes…

This summer has been one of the best.

Bobby and I have been cooking up a storm…

moscow-mule

^^A moscow mule (a drink my dad introduced me to).^^

This was mine, but I gave it to Bobby – after one sip I didn’t want anymore! It’s delicious but I wasn’t in a drinking mood. {HERE} is the recipe I posted 5 years ago when my dad first told me about it. It’s a mix of ginger beer, vodka, lime, and mint. Sometimes we do half seltzer / half ginger beer. Gingerale also works.

tempeh-onion-goop

^^Sweet and Savory Tempeh with Onions^^

I started off following Gwyneth Paltrow’s recipe for Tempe Manis (Sweet Tempeh)¬†but changed it… a lot. As you guys know, I’m not really into sweets that much, so I cut out just about all the sugar, and instead caramelized some onions to give it sweetness. I will hopefully remember what I did so I can post my version of the recipe later. So delicious.

kale-mustard-green-salad-seaweed-avocado-goop

^^Kale & Seaweed Salad with Avocado – Except with Mustard Greens because I mistakenly grabbed the wrong bunch of greens!^^

Another Gwyneth Paltrow recipe. Which she actually got from Cafe Gratitude (in LA I think?). {HERE} is her recipe. I changed it a bit – I only used one avocado, I didn’t add the cucumbers (all of a sudden I am hating cucumbers, weird!), and I accidentally bought mustard greens instead of kale. I’ve remade it with kale and I actually prefer it with mustard greens. They don’t come out bitter.

dinner-veggies-kabocha-rice-beans-cucumber-mushrooms

^^Random plate^^

This plate has a veggie stir-fry that was *amazing* – it has fake chicken from Trader Joe’s, but aside from that I don’t know what’s in it because Bobby (a budding cook, apparently) made it. I’ve also been *loving* white rice. Having it almost daily, in large amounts. My appetite has been interesting the last month or so. In this pic there is also kabocha (simply steamed, though I have another kabocha recipe I’ve been meaning to share), Rachel Ray’s sesame green beans, a cucumber salad (before I started hating cucumbers), and roasted mushrooms – I think these were oyster mushrooms.

Lastly…

natto

^^Natto^^

This is a fermented soybean product that is eaten a lot in Japan. It has an interesting (funky) smell and it’s slimy/stringy like okra (only more so). It’s definitely an acquired taste, but I have learned to love it. In fact, Bobby made a batch of homemade natto this week, which is aging in the fridge right now. It should be ready this weekend.

Aside from lots of good eats, other wonderful things have happened recently.

I got to meet my close friend’s baby:

maggie-and-eden

She is so sweet. So cuddly and adorable.

And Bo the cat is a weirdo ūüėČ

bo-weirdo

I can’t believe I caught that picture! I was reorganizing the area next to my washer/dryer and was taking these shelves downstairs, but Bo decided to hang out in the shelf and I got him mid-yawn.

What have you been up to the past couple of weeks?

{Macrobiotic March} What is a Macro Plate?

A Macro Plate is the quintessential macrobiotic meal.

ozu-macro-plate

It’s a perfectly balanced plate of macrobiotic foods. My favorite macro plate consists of…

10 macro plate souen extra kabocha

  • Brown rice
  • Beans or tofu
  • Seaweed (hijiki is probably the most common)
  • Steamed greens (kale, collards, chard)
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Steamed carrot or sweet potato
  • KABOCHA or other squash
  • Dipping sauce (I like tahini-based ones)

What does perfectly balanced¬†mean exactly? This goes back to the concept of yin and yang that I touched on earlier this month. Foods (and everything, really) can have yin qualities (expansive, cooling, moist) or yang qualities (contractive, warming, dry). We should try to avoid things that are way off on either side of the spectrum. Let’s go through the list of foods in a macro plate…

  • Brown rice –> this whole grain has almost equal parts yin and yang.
  • Beans, tofu, and tempeh –> these foods are also in the middle of the yin to yang spectrum.
  • Sea vegetables –> in the middle of the spectrum.
  • Leafy green vegetables (greens) and round vegetables (I guess broccoli?) –> in the middle.
  • Root vegetables –> in the middle of the spectrum.
  • Kabocha / squash –> Do these count as ’round’ veggies? They are also in the midde.
  • Tahini dipping sauce –> nuts are in the middle, but miso (salty – which I like in dipping sauce as well) starts to veer to the yang side of the spectrum.

Overall, a very balanced plate. If you were wondering, fish is a moderate food, though other meats (poultry, red meat, and eggs) are yang. Dairy is on the yin side.

I made a semi-macro plate just last night. I say semi because it had a fried egg on it and as I noted above, eggs are yang. Eggs are even more yang than poultry because they compress all the energy of a chicken into one small egg. That makes sense, right?

semi-macro-plate

This was…

  • Sauteed greens
  • Brown rice (hiding)
  • Avocado
  • Kabocha squash
  • Fried egg + ground sesame on top (it had a runny yolk – it’s not popped in the picture though)
  • 2 umeboshi plums¬†(top right)
  • Tahini drizzzzzled on top

Tonight I had a macro-ish meal from the nearby Chinese takeout place. It was just scallops and veggies in a very light white sauce over white rice.

Even when I’m not trying, my dinners end up kind of macrobiotic-ish these days.

SO – Macrobiotic March is wrapping up. I have covered a lot of topics but are there any other questions at all that you guys have about macrobiotics that I haven’t answered yet? Even if I don’t know the answer I’d be happy to research it and give my thoughts.

But don’t worry – just because Macro March is almost over doesn’t mean I won’t be doing macrobiotic posts. I loved posting this month and I will definitely continue to talk about my macro finds.

P.S. I updated my Macrobiotics page – just in time for Macro March to end ūüėČ

{Macrobiotic March Recipe} Sauteed Sesame Fern Bracken / Fiddlehead Ferns

A few weeks ago when my in-laws were visiting we ended up out in Flushing. Flushing (a town in the eastern part of Queens) has a huge Korean and Chinese population. We stopped into H-Mart (a Korean grocery store) just before heading back to the city and I ended up with quite a large haul. Queens prices < Manhattan prices.

One thing I picked up (it was on sale and I was curious) was ‘fern bracken’.

bracken-fiddlehead-fern-bag

When I got home I discovered that ‘fern bracken’ is actually just another term for fiddlehead ferns. Fiddleheads always pop up at the farmers’ market around April. It’s good to know I can get them year round at H-Mart if I need to. If you’re familiar with Korean food, these bracken ferns / fiddleheads show up in Bi Bim Bap as well – they are the brown pieces of veggie.

Fiddleheads are high in antioxidants, and are a source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. As most vegetables, they are high in fiber. They also happen to have vitamin A, niacin, vitamin C, riboflavin, phosphorus, and even iron.

Sauteed Sesame Fiddlehead Ferns (Bracken Ferns) – Macrobiotic Recipe*

Method (keep reading for recipe ingredients and instructions…)

washed-fiddlehead-bracken-fern

bracken-fiddlehead-fern-marinating

sauteed-bracken-fern-wok

grinding-black-sesame-seeds

fiddlehead-ferns-bracken-ground-black-sesame-final-recipe

We had our ferns with breakfast. I opted for eggs, ferns, takuan (Japanese pickle), and avocado. I believe Bobby had the same but with white rice, too.

     fiddlehead-fern-macrobiotic-breakfast-egg-takuan-avocado

(Eggs technically not macrobiotic; don’t think the avocado is either – but it sure was tasty!)

*Inspired by {this recipe}.

Sauteed Sesame Fern Bracken / Fiddlehead Ferns

IMG 0013 150x150 {Macrobiotic March Recipe} Sauteed Sesame Fern Bracken / Fiddlehead Ferns

  • Prep time:
  • Cook time:
  • Total time:
  • Yield: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Recipe type: appetizer, side

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of boiled bracken fern (750 grams or 1.65 pounds). I know they sell bracken fern in a dried form, but I have not tried this recipe with the dried fiddleheads.
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or more, to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (or more, to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon of ground black sesame (toasted pre-grinding). Feel free to substitute regular sesame seeds, and the grinding is optional.

Directions:

  1. Drain the bracken ferns and thoroughly wash them.
  2. Chop the fern pieces into 1-2 inch pieces. Add the garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and make sure all the pieces are coated in the sauce.
  3. Heat a wok on high heat. You do not need to add any oil, since there is oil in the ferns already. Saute on high heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently (I like to use chopsticks for stirring).
  4. Add about 3-4 tablespoons of water to the cooking ferns, turn the heat down to medium, mix again, and cover the wok. Let the ferns cook for 10 more minutes to get nice and tender.
  5. At the end, there may be a little bit of water left ‚Äď you can either continue cooking to let it boil off (uncovered again, and high heat), you can leave it in, or you can dump it out. It‚Äôs ok for this dish to have a little bit of water.
  6. Turn off the heat under the ferns. Grind your black sesame.
  7. Serve the fiddlehead / bracken ferns topped with sesame; mix before serving.

Have you had fiddlehead ferns? What’s your favorite way to prepare them?

Potluck BBQ RECIPE: Mexican Couscous and Bean Salad + How to Cut an Avocado

I took this salad to a potluck last weekend. While that particular event wasn’t a barbecue, this dish would be perfect for any kind of summer party – barbecues, pool parties, potlucks, Sunday brunches, maybe even the beach. The large bowl of salad I brought was gone in a jiffy. I was pleased because there was another couscous salad there as well, and I think mine tasted better.

The recipe is based off of a Whole Foods flyer recipe, but I also got inspiration from this fiesta salad that I linked to on Sunday.

Mexican Couscous and Bean Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat couscous (dry measurement)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 can of corn, drained
  • 1 can of black beans, drained
  • 1/2 an apple, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup nuts (I used soy nuts and pepitas)
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/3 cup lime juice (add more if this is not enough)
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder (or to taste)

Method

  1. Cook the couscous by heating 1 cup of water to a boil and adding the butter and salt, then mixing in the couscous. Stir the couscous and remove from heat. Let sit, covered, for 5 minutes.
  2. Prepare your veggies while the couscous cools. See below for how I chop my avocado.
  3. Mix everything together. Add more lime juice, chili powder, and salt, to taste.
  4. Enjoy outside in the shade.

***

How to Cut an Avocado

Cut the avocado in half around the pit from top to bottom. Twist it with your hands. One half will keep the pit. Whack the pit with a knife. Holding the avocado, twist the knife so the pit comes out on the blade.

While the meat is still in the skin, slice the avocado into a bunch of rectangles. Push the middle of the skin so like you’re turning the avocado inside out. Then just scrape the avocado cubes into the salad!

It’s so simple. Best way to cut an avocado that I have found.

***

Notes:

  • If you are vegan, feel free to omit the butter and substitute olive oil instead. (For cooking the couscous.)
  • I almost used bacon fat instead of butter, but didn’t want to trick unsuspecting vegetarians. But bacon fat is one of my favorite fats to cook with. Try it – just reserve the fat each time you cook bacon. I keep mine in the fridge in a little bowl.
  • If you are feeling spunky, try adding some chopped bacon (nitrate and nitrite free of course). I may do that next time.

Have a great long weekend!

My Big Fat Cobb-y Dinner! and Avocado Dessert Guac

My latest food obsession is the Cobb Salad. In my mind, a typical Cobb Salad includes most of these guys:

  • Bacon
  • Egg
  • Avocado
  • Blue cheese
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Ranch dressing
  • Chicken breast
  • Tomatoes
  • Other veggies (?)

Here’s mine:

Here’s one I had last year:

Cobb Salad
I love bacon <3

Here’s another (while moving cross country).

The most recent restaurant Cobb I had was at Yo In Yo Out. It’s a cute little French place on the upper upper east side (100th Street) that boasts an awesome menu and some truly delicious cappuccinos to boot. Their salad is¬†Cobb Salad “A Ma Lacon” – it has a marinated chicken salad, bacon, eggs, blue cheese, tomatoes, and cucumber over organic mesclun with a balsamic vinaigrette drizzle. I had them hold the balsamic (I’m not a fan; shocker I know!) and sub out the blue cheese and add avocado instead. The dressing is their house dressing and it’s made with olive oil, red wine, raspberries, and some other stuff. It was light and fresh but still a little creamy.

UPDATE: Yo In Yo Out has since closed.

I also recently had a vegetarian Cobb salad at Curly’s Vegetarian Lunch. You know – I keep trying to enjoy this restaurant, but it’s just not that great. The salad tried but just didn’t cut it. The¬†vegan ranch dressing was a small tragedy.

Here is how I make my own Cobb variation at home: cook up several slices of bacon, then fry some mushrooms and onions in the bacon fat with some garlic powder. To the salad (romaine lettuce base), add the bacon, sauteed veggies, half of an avocado, tomatoes, and top with some sesame seeds. For dressing I used Bolthouse Farms Classic Ranch (sent free for me to review).

For dessert I took the rest of the avocado and mashed it with peanut butter, NuNaturals¬†Erythritol Crystals*, and topped it with some more sesame seeds. I call this “dessert guacamole”.

Hi, my name is Maggie, and I have a pudding addiction.

***

Do you like Cobb salad? Do you like bacon? Do you like pudding?

J’adore them all!

*Don’t forget, you can get a discount and free shipping on NuNaturals until May 31st!