Big Changes!

Hi there!  It’s been more than 2 weeks since my last post!  I apologize for disappearing on you so abruptly.  Missed me? ;).  I’ve been busy writing papers, preparing for presentations, visiting my alma mater, reuniting with my college buddies, seeing one of my closest friends say “I do” to the man of her dreams…

She was absolutely stunning…I would post a picture of her, but I didn’t ask her for permission so you just have to look at us old farts… 😉

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As of today, I am free!!  Can’t believe it…I finished the semester strong and am ready to relax and enjoy these next 3 months (I emphasize 3!!) to the fullest before starting my dietetic internship in the fall.

I’m super excited at the thought of spending more time in the kitchen and making a mess ;).  In terms of blogging…as of this month, I have been blogging for a whole year!  Happy birthday to me!!  I am not self-hosted yet as this was a “trial” period for me to get my feet wet and to see if blogging is for me.  Well, there’s no doubt about it…It’s def for me!  So I’m taking the plunge and am in the process of switching over to wordpress.org.  I thought about hiring someone, but oh my word, the expense is mind-blowing!  So with the help of Bjork and Lindsay at Foodblogger Pro (I’ve been bombarding Bjork with questions, and he’s been absolutely amazing!), I am SLOWLY transitioning.

Tim wants in on the fun, and we are thrilled to join forces to share with you some wonderful recipes, restaurant reviews, and our goofy life together.  The blog name will change as Tim doesn’t think mine is “manly” enough.  Hmph.  I’m sad to part with Savor the Rainbow but am excited for the the new adventure ahead (ahem…a lil’ hint to our new name).  We will def let you know when the new site is up and running…until then, I will be sure to keep track of all the recipes to share!

Posted in Friends, Fun | Tagged | 17 Comments

Kimchi and Bluebonnets

With only three more weeks of school left and tons of research papers, presentations, and finals coming up, I’m trying my best to finish strong because that’s what I do ;).   So yes, I’ve been in “Persevere” mode lately.  On top of that, Tim and I have been driving down to Houston every weekend to spend time with my in-laws.  My father-in-law (appa) seems more determined than ever to win his battle with cancer, and we want to be there to support him every step of the way.  Even though these frequent trips are wearing us down (not to mention how much we miss spending quality time just by ourselves), we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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This time when I saw appa, he appeared a lot more fragile and tired.  He lost 5 pounds during his 4 day hospital stay but is slowly gaining weight now that he’s back home.  What’s been the toughest for all of us to deal with has been his lack of appetite and taste aversions.  He doesn’t want to have anything to do with sweets, which is a shame since there are sooo many high-calorie sugary choices that are sure to increase his weight.  There seems to be a disconnect between his memory and his present sense of taste.  He’ll say he wants something, but when he actually tastes it, he gets upset that it’s not what he had on his mind and will sometimes stop eating all together.  It’s so sad to see…He used to never complain about food.  He’s a man that could eat the same meals over and over for a week with no problem (a wife’s dream come true!).  Just rice and kimchi?  “Why not?” he’d say.

Through all this, my mother-in-law (umma) has surprised me more than words can describe.  What a strong woman she is!  With a dedicated caregiver, supporter, and prayer warrior like her, cancer, you’ve met your match!  She’s simply amazing.

She has a lot on her mind, of course.  One of the ways she’s combatting that is by keeping herself busy.  It’s quite amusing to watch this 5′-nothing woman with uncombed “wild” hair shuffling around the house in her slippers.  She’s like a ninja –  she’ll pop up out of nowhere at a moment’s notice.  The majority of her time is spent feeding forcing food down appa’s throat, thinking of what to cook, cooking, cleaning, cooking….

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One of her beloved specialties is her mul kimchi or non-spicy Korean radish kimchi.  It was one of appa’s favorites (now not so much), and Tim craves it a lot more now than ever before.  He’s been feeling a lot more reminiscent lately.  So of course I had to obtain this “recipe,” which was no easy task, let me tell you.  I tried my best to get her to give me exact measurements, but of course like any other Korean mother, she told me it varies from time to time and that you just have to add a pinch of this and a splash of that and taste every step of the way.  However, being the persistent one that I am, I kept shoving measuring spoons at her, which I think may have irritated umma a bit.  Even then, things didn’t go so smoothly.  My excitement at her using a measuring cup came to an abrupt end when she poured in the fish sauce from the measuring cup without actually checking the marker on the cup!  It happened so fast that  I couldn’t stop her.  She’s a ninja, indeed.  Anyway, after much of “umma!  how much of this? that? no I don’t want to hear a couple of shakes of this!!!,”  I was able to comprise an actual recipe to share with you. 

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Korean Radish Kimchi (non-spicy)

Ingredients

  • Korean radish, 1 large round one or 2 smaller ones, peeled and sliced into bite-sized pieces *
  • Garlic, whole bulb, sliced
  • 1 med carrot, sliced
  • Green onion, 3 stems, sliced roughly
  • 1 Tbs salt
  • 2 tsp Korean red chili powder or gochoogaru
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame seed salt
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce **

*  Korean radish and daikon are not the same even though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably.  Korean radish is rounder, larger, and has a pale green color at the top.  It tastes spicier, too.

** This is what makes her kimchi different from others as salt is normally used.  Also, according to her, it MUST be the one with the picture of the 3 crabs on the bottle as you can see below.

Directions:

  1. Chop the radish.  Place in a large mixing bowl.   Add 2 Tbs salt and let it sit for about 30 min.  Toss halfway through.
  2. Add gochoogaru or red chilli powder.  Mix.  Add carrots, garlic, green onion.  Mix.  Add toasted sesame seed salt.  Mix.  Add 1/4 cup fish sauce.  Mix.  Let it sit for about an hour.
  3. Transfer to a jar.  With the liquid that formed in the bowl, taste it first.  If too salty, add more water.  If not, add a bit more salt to taste.
  4. Place saran wrap on top before closing the lid.  Leave out overnight and put it in the refrigerator in the morning.
  5. I cannot tell you exactly when it will be ready, but you’ll know once it is.  So I advise you to sneak in a bite every other day.  It’s best when served cold.

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The rest of the weekend was spent lounging around in our pjs.  Umma is actually scared of dogs as she got bit by a large one many years ago, but she seemed a bit at ease with Kona.  He has that kind of effect on people ;).  I was extremely hurt when my sister-in-law told us that his face is one that only a parent could love.  I made sure to cover Kona’s ears!  Blasphemy, I tell ya!

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We had another blessed weekend with them.  On our way back home, we saw a field of bluebonnets.  ‘Tis the season for this beautiful state flower.  We made a brief stop to snap some photos.  We were craving a lil’ fresh air anyway, not to mention we had no feeling in our butts.  These blue beauties made us happy.  The greatest challenge in taking these pictures was getting Kona to look at the camera.  As you can see, we failed miserably.  He was wayy too stimulated and distracted.  Better luck next time…

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That just about sums up my weekend!  Hope you have a Marvelous Monday.  Thank you, Katie, for the link-up!

Posted in Family, Food, Fun, Kona, recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 21 Comments

Spotlight on a Superfruit: Avocado

I haven’t talked much about my classes this semester, which is a bit unusual since I’ve written several posts in the past in regards to my classes and assignments.  Currently, I’m taking Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals.  So what exactly is a functional food?  Well, there are several definitions, but the most widely accepted and comprehensive one is this:

A functional food is similar in appearance to conventional foods, is consumed as a part of a normal diet and has demonstrated physiological benefits and/or reduces the risk of chronic diseases beyond basic nutritional function.  – Health Canada

This is a great website, which contains an easy-to-read table listing all the different functional components in various foods and their health benefits, such as protection against cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurodegeneration, etc.

So in this course, I’ve been learning about the sources and mechanisms of action of dietary bioactive compounds in these functional foods, nutraceuticals, and dietary supplements as well as the efficacy, safety, and regulatory issues in regards to their commercialization.

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My fav cereal!

If you’ve noticed, functional foods (whole foods as well as modified foods – fortified, enriched, or enhanced) are really hot right now in the food industry.  The demand for these foods are high as consumers are becoming more concerned with maintaining good health and reducing risk of disease.  I’m sure you’ve all heard the slogan, “antioxidants will protect me” (the power of advertising..).  Upon hearing the word, antioxidant, we immediately associate it as being good for us.  Several antioxidant-rich “superfruits” have emerged and continue to be discovered.  These include pomegranate, aςai berry, mangosteen, noni, goji berry, and avocado.  For this post, the spotlight is on AVOCADO.  Yes, it contains many essential nutrients such as vitamin K, fiber, folate, vitamin E, etc., but it also contains high amounts of phytosterols (which help keep inflammation under control and lower cholesterol) and lutein (while there’s no clear evidence yet, it has been linked to combating age-related eye disease and preventing prostate cancer).

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hmm..I don’t know why onion’s on there..this was taken from my class slides. I’ll have to bring this to my professor’s attention.

Here are some new-to-me facts.

Untitled2So why don’t more Americans consume these functional foods on a daily basis?  Some of the top barriers that have been detected include price, taste, availability/convenience, and uncertainty of how to prepare them.  I personally believe avocados overcome all those barriers!  At my grocery store, they are 3 for a $1 this week.  Jackpot!!  I made sure to stock up ;).

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Yay! I’m getting quite good at picking unbruised ones 😉

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I immediately made an avocado omelette as soon as I got home from the store.  Wasted no time 😉

Avocados are extremely versatile, can easily be added to all kinds of dishes, and most importantly, taste amazing!  So the bottom line?  Let’s eat more avocados!

If you’re looking for some ideas, here are some of my past recipes to get you started ;).

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With the leftover sauce…

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Chicken with Tomatillo and Avocado Sauce

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Slow-Cooked Beef, Hatch Chile,  Avocado Panini

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Slow Cooker Spicy Tex-Mex Fajitas

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Red Quinoa Pancake

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Wheatberry Hummus Spread

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Mexican Chicken and Quinoa Casserole (you can top with avocados)

Question:

Do you eat functional foods regularly?  If so, which ones?

I always try to eat as many fresh fruits and veggies as I can that are in season – right now lots of oranges.  In terms of prepackaged foods, I love me some Quaker Oatmeal Squares.  They make for an excellent snack ;).  I always purchase calcium-fortified dairy products (being an Asian, I worry about my fragile bones).  And of course, kimchi…

What are your favorite ways to enjoy avocado?

I have tons.  But I must say, guacamole is my ultimate weakness…esp when sriracha is involved 😉

Posted in Food, Nutrition-related, RD2be, recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 21 Comments

One Less Decision

I’ve received several emails now regarding how I manage my time.  How do I juggle life as a graduate student, Christ follower, blogger, cook, recipe hunter, self-taught photog, yogi (self-proclaimed), wife, friend, etc?  Someone described me as a superwoman, and I gotta admit, I was extremely flattered by this bc a superwoman, I am not!  Yes, my days are hectic for the most part, but whose aren’t these days?  What works for me is to come up with a game plan at the start of each day.  I used to plan out the whole week in advance, and what a disaster that was!  My anxiety and stress levels were out of control!  I felt as though I was constantly living for the future, obsessing over every activity before it even happened.  Of course, you never know what tomorrow holds.  Just as it is written in the Bible, “therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:34.

As a creature of habit, my mornings start out like this: I wake up sometime between 5 and 5:30 everyday (thank you, internal body clock).  While I nurse my coffee, I jot down everything I must accomplish that day as well as a few “maybes”, just in case I have some spare time ;).  I try not to be overambitious, making every effort to keep the list concise and reasonable.  I don’t deviate much from the list.

Sundays and Mondays are my most predictable days: Sunday = church, meal prep, and unwinding (hello, TV!); Monday = my “nerdiest” day, since I’m in class for the most part (7 hours to be exact).

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My list for today…

My commute to school is a lil more than an hour each way.  Initially, I was absolutely appalled by this.  But now, I find myself looking forward to this rare alone time.  On my bday, Tim offered to be my chauffeur for the day to which I politely responded…”no, thank you.”  This is when I converse with God, reflect on what’s been going on in my life, think about what I want to cook….and listen to podcasts.  Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of episodes on health and nutrition through iTunesU, especially the ones from Cornell University.  Last week, I listened to a wonderfully enlightening episode titled “Mindless Eating.”  Several years too late.  I highly recommend you to listen to it if you haven’t already!

The speaker had some great take-away messages, one of which resonated with me.  Perhaps it will for you as well.

We should switch out all of our plates, bowls, and utensils to smaller ones and get tall thin cups rather than short and chubby ones.  Yes, I’m fully aware that the size of the plate influences how much we consume.  The bigger the plate, the higher the caloric intake.  So why don’t we get rid of these stumbling blocks?  I don’t know about you, but when I open up my cabinet, it is filled with large sized plates.  We don’t bring junk food into the house when trying to shed some pounds, so then why do we insist on using large plates for our meals?  I like how the speaker put it.  It’s because we believe that something as silly as the size of a bowl cannot possibly be more intelligent than us, that we are smart enough to portion properly even when using larger plates.

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However, experimental studies performed on “informed” people showed that despite being given a lecture about the effect of the size of bowl on food consumption, when given a larger bowl, they ended up consuming way more than the people who were given a smaller one.  So you think that this won’t happen to you?  That you will have more will-power and self-control?  Perhaps.  But we are already overwhelmed by hundreds of decisions that must be made each day (just bfast alone, more than 10 decisions are made: which cereal? how much to pour? add sugar? add fruit?…) and tasks that we have to get done.  Thus, getting rid of the larger, Texas-sized bowls, plates, utensils, etc will just make your life simpler.  No need to think or remind ourselves “don’t overpour, over serve…”  You know what’s on my to-do list for today.

Perhaps I should downsize Kona’s bowl, too.  He’s getting a bit…chunky these days.  I’m prolly pouring a lot more than I should.  In the meanwhile, we shall frolic outside together…

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We absolutely LOVE seeing his ears flop around as he runs;)!

Now, I’m off to tackle another “nerdy” Monday!  Hope you have a Marvelous day.

Thank you, Katie, for the weekly link-up ;).

Posted in Kona, MIMM, Nutrition-related, RD2be | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Kamut Margherita Salad

I love simplicity.  More accurately, I have grown to love simplicity.  During my adolescent years, I gravitated towards anything loud and extravagant – my attempt at trying to cover up my timid, awkward self.  Oh those fun years of struggling to find self-worth..I don’t miss them one bit.  I definitely believed that more meant better.  I would spend hours caking on makeup, purchasing the most complex gadgets, etc.  However, as I age and have become more comfortable in my own skin, I’ve come to appreciate the elegance and beauty in simplicity.  Underneath its plain surface lurks a subtle sophistication that is oh so lovely.  This appreciation stretched to food preferences as well.

For instance, my favorite pizza growing up was the one that came with the works.  Ironic, considering I picked off most of the toppings and really just tackled the cheese and the crust.  Margherita style is now my pizza of choice.  The recipe couldn’t be simpler – basil, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, olive oil, and voila!  Simplicity at its finest.  Of course, the pizza crust plays an extremely crucial role, but I won’t get into that right now (I’ve been told I’m quite the pizza crust nazi).  A couple of weeks ago, my father-in-law wanted to go out for some pizza.  As he is going through chemotherapy right now, we jump at any opportunity to find something he may actually enjoy eating.  We went to California Pizza Kitchen and ordered several varieties, including, yup you guessed it, margherita pizza.  Ever since then, I’ve been craving it nonstop.

Fastforward a week.  While wandering around the grocery store (this is very rare since I normally go with a game plan – in and out in less than 30 min), I found fresh mozzarella.  It was the last one on the shelf, and I could not possibly allow for it to get in the hands of a stranger.  Into the cart it went.  Muhahaha.  Unfortunately, the excitement clouded my thought process.  I came home and realized I was missing tomatoes and pizza dough.  I turned to my well-stocked pantry (yes, I’m bragging as I take extreme pride in it) for some inspiration.  In no time, I was inhaling a bowl of what I’d like to call kamut margherita salad.  

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup kamut (or other whole grain..e.g farro, wheatberry)
  • 3 bocconcini (small fresh mozzarella balls), sliced
  • 3/4 cup chickpeas
  • 10 pieces of sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, sliced
  • Basil, torn into pieces
  • 3 Tbs Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp EVOO
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to season

Directions

  1. Add 3 parts water to 1 part kamut.  Bring it to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until tender, approx 45 min to an hour.
  2. When the grain’s almost done cooking, start prepping the rest of the ingredients.  Stir together balsamic vinegar, EVOO, dijon mustard, salt and pepper.  Set aside.  Tear the basil leaves.  Slice the cheese and sun-dried tomatoes.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine everything together.  Serve.

You can enjoy it all by itself or serve alongside fish, chicken, pork, etc.  I stirred in some rotisserie chicken the next day to take to school, and it was delish!

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Have you heard of kamut before?  It’s a type of wheatberry and is twice the size of an average wheat kernel.  I was pleasantly surprised by its  buttery, nutty, and subtly sweet flavor.  Out of all the grains I’ve tried so far, this one has the most chew.  It is rich in protein (7g/serving) and is a great source of selenium, zinc, magnesium, and iron.  

It does take a long time to cook (approx 45 min to an hour) so to speed things up, I highly recommend you to soak it overnight.  What I like to do is to cook a huge batch on Sunday and freeze in small portions to enjoy when the going gets tough ;).

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So what do you think?  Simple yet lovely, right?  I’m in love with these golden, nutrient-dense kernels.  Their intense “pop” is unmistakeable.  Give this grain a try!  And once again, a big thank you to Bob’s Red Mill for sending me this product!

Posted in Food, Nutrition-related, recipes | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

Here’s To A New Decade

Happy birthday to my beautiful bride!!  Although life’s been absolutely insane lately, I couldn’t let this day pass without drawing some attention to you…my love.  I thank God for you daily and consider it a joy to be sharing this life together with you.  You complement me like no one else could and your bright and infectious personality is one of a kind.  I love you!!  Oh wait…you told me to keep it from getting mushy…  Oops.  My bad…

This past week, the wife and I were in Houston to celebrate with my oldest sister on her wedding day and to spend time with my dad as he continues his chemotherapy.  It was definitely a time of mixed emotions, but in the end, the opportunity to be with family (as brief as it was) was priceless.  This is actually the first time in years that my family has gotten together like this.  The final days leading up to the wedding were a bit stressful as we frantically tried to get last minute errands done, but somehow everything came together and the ceremony was a success.  (Sorry for the un-Savor the Rainbow-like pictures in this post.  This is what happens when I’m left in charge of the pictures ;).  All I had was my iPhone.)

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The wedding was held at Ashton Gardens, the exact same venue that the wife and I got married at almost exactly 6 years ago.  A flood of memories rushed over me as I walked the grounds the day of the rehearsal.  Good times…  As much as we celebrated for my sister and her husband, we also celebrated for my father.  Up until a couple of weeks ago, we weren’t even certain that he’d be able to make it to the wedding.  But by the grace of God and the determined spirit of my father, he had the strength to walk his first-born child down the aisle and even mustered up the energy to hit the dance floor at the reception.  It was a sight to behold…

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The week’s celebrations didn’t stop there, though.  About a month ago, I got in touch with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law to plan a surprise party for my lady.  After a slew of text messages back and forth, we finally had things squared away……or so we thought.  Dinner reservation?  Check.  Birthday cake?  Check.  Presents?  Check.  Getting Min to the restaurant without her being suspicious?  Che….wait…Houston, we have a problem.  I concocted a plan with my family that she and I had to go out and pick up some food for my dad as there was no one else able to do so.  Well, I was able to get her in the car and halfway to the restaurant when the questions started to pour in.  “Why this restaurant of all places?  What does your dad want to eat?  Can’t we just call in the order in advance?  What do you mean you need to look at the menu first?”  My stomach started to knot up with each question and my hands were as slick as a slip-n-slide.  I somehow managed to get us into the restaurant, and although the surprise portion didn’t go as smoothly as we had planned, I think we got her nonetheless.

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I considered getting in touch with some of Min’s friends and going all out with the guest list, but I knew how much she’d appreciate an intimate dinner with her siblings and her darling nephew especially since we haven’t been able to spend that much time with them lately.  We reserved one of the tatami rooms at Kaneyama, a favorite of the wife’s, and feasted on an assortment of nigiri and rolls.  I can’t remember the last time we went out for sushi so it was tough not to go overboard on the ordering.  After much deliberation, we settled on the Imperial Sushi Combination Plate, Spider Roll, Shaggy Roll, and Rainbow Roll…      PicMonkey Collage1

Wedding, birthday, loving family, and delicious food..these are what make this Monday so Marvelous!  Thank you, Katie, for the MIMM link-up.

–Tim–

Posted in Family, Food, Fun, MIMM, Personal | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Lemongrass Salmon with Barley Salad

First of all, thank you so much for the warm welcome in regards to Tim’s post.  I think he is secretly bubbling inside with joy and is thrilled to be a part of Savor the Rainbow.  I’m just excited to read his lovely writing ;).  It’s quite a treat.

This week is a bit unusual as we both took time off in order to head down to Houston first thing tomorrow morning.  Tim drives.  I sleep.  I’m so thoughtful this way ;).  My sister-in-law is getting married on Thursday, and we couldn’t be more ecstatic.  Oh, and a bonus is that she’s getting married at the same location where we said our “I do’s” 6 years ago!  I wonder how much the place has changed.  I have an inkling that I’ll shed a tear…or two.  No floodgates this time.  And of course, this weekend is Easter so I plan on fasting from all things technology to reflect on all that Jesus, my Savior, has done for me and rejoice in his resurrection.  I hope you have a blessed weekend!

A week away from home means it’s fridge clean-up time.  Tim, knows exactly when this time comes around as the same cast of characters start to appear over and over again in “different” dishes – my effort to empty the refrigerator crisper with the quickness.  I do a fine job at that.  However, these “creations” are not ones that scream out “take a picture!”.  Cleaning out the fridge = I’m getting ready for a trip = I don’t have time to address the “you eat with your eyes” aspect of the culinary arts.

However, yesterday was wayyy out of the norm.  To Tim’s surprise,  I presented him with a “well thought out” meal that was visually appealing as well.  I like to throw a curve ball every now and then to spice things up ;).  The mission, however, remained the same – no produce gets left behind.  These are what I had on hand – lemongrass, ginger, green onion, broccoli, and cherry tomatoes.  And this was their fate…

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Lemongrass Salmon

Adapted from Woman and Home

Ingredients:

  • 4 salmon fillets
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, tough outer layer removed, stalks finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs fish sauce
  • 1 Tbs rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbs green onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbs sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 Tbs lime juice

Directions:

  1. Combine lemongrass, ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce, rice vinegar, chilli sauce, lime juice, green onion.  Place the salmon fillets in a ziplock bag and pour the sauce in.  Marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
  2. Grill.

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In continuation with my Whole Grains Series, I chose to pair the salmon with a refreshing barley salad.  I’ve been obsessed with barley lately and have been adding it to everything!  Hint hint…more recipes to come!

Be sure to look for hull-less barley rather than pearl barley.  “Pearled” essentially means that the bran has been scored or partially removed in order to allow for quicker cooking time and therefore is not a whole grain.  I love hull-less barley for its earthy yet sweet flavor and the chewy texture.  As for the yield, 1 cup raw = 2 2/3 cups cooked.  Hope you give this nutrient-dense whole grain a try!  It is sure to keep you full and satisfied.

I would like to take the time to thank Bob’s Red Mill for sending me this wonderful assortment of whole grains!  I can’t wait to try every single one of them!

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Barley Salad in Asian Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 Tbs lime
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • Any vegetables (I used cherry tomatoes, green onions, broccoli)

Directions:

  • Take 1 cup of barley and add it to 3 cups of water.  Cover the pot and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for about 45 min-1 hour until the water has been absorbed.
  • Prep the veggies.  Combine sauce.  Serve.

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Question:

– Have you cooked with barley before?  What are your favorite ways to  enjoy it?

Posted in Food, recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 18 Comments

Lunch Date at épicerie

So I have exciting news to share with you.  I’m not sure how you’ll feel about this, but Savor the Rainbow will have a new contributor starting today!  Who might it be, you ask?  If you’ve been following me, I’m sure you’ve already met this guy, Tim, my better half.

sorry hun..just had to use this picture ;)

sorry hun..just had to use this picture 😉

When he started his burger bucket list, he named himself the burgervore and captured his fond and meaty memories in his own blog (I may have nudged him a bit ;)).  In the process, he, too, got the blogging bug and enjoyed connecting with others who share the same passion as he.  Although he says he says he’s not good at it, I think he’s a tremendous writer (I’m afraid that he’ll outdo me…actually, I know he will).  Perhaps he’s just being modest.  Well, fast forward over 30 burgers scratched off his list and a wifey who’s begging to try other highly acclaimed non-burger places the city has to offer, he’s decided to give me a break and thus is at a loss for content for his blog.  So naturally I suggested, “hey how about you be the restaurant critic on my page?”  To which he happily (or so I say) obliged.   I’m so excited for this collaboration.  Teamwork, baby!  We go out to eat only once a week, so we are on a mission to try a different restaurant every time.  Please join us as we continue our foodie adventure!  So without further ado, take it away, babe!

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Tremendous writer??  Better half??  Hmm…I don’t about all that, but I do appreciate the kind words :).  And yes.  I’m the one who’s been dragging my healthy-living, nutrition-studying wife to all these burger joints over the past 6 months.  Now as much as I enjoy a good burger, I have a hearty appreciation for food in general.  About 4 years ago, my gluttonous ways had gotten me to a bad spot.  I was about 20 pounds overweight, and my cholesterol was so bad that my doctor was threatening to put me on a cholesterol-lowering agent…at the age of 30.  Sad, I know.  Thanks to the loving wife, though, in the course of a year, that all changed.  She helped me experience the life-changing power of food.  Sorry to get all infomercial on you, but it’s true!  Four years later the weight is still off, and my doctor praises the work my wife has done.

I’ll admit it – I’m spoiled.  The wife prepares healthful meals for me all throughout the week, making me quite the envy of my coworkers.  They’re always asking if I can get her to prepare meals for them as well.  As was mentioned earlier, we only go out to eat once a week.  Our schedules are such that we’re like ships passing in the night so it’s a really special time for us to reconnect and enjoy the company of one another.  I don’t have any culinary background, aside from being my mom’s official taste tester growing up, so you’ll have to forgive me if my observations are pedestrian.  I’m just your average guy with an above average passion for all things yummy food.

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This past weekend, we headed out to the recently opened épicerie Cafe & Grocery.  As we walked in the door, I instantly felt like I had been transported to the Hamptons and that at any moment I would see Ina Garten walk in to buy some cheese or maybe some charcuterie.  The wife’s big on atmosphere when eating out, so I knew this would be right up her alley.  And the fact that chef/owner Sarah McIntosh trained under renowned chef Thomas Keller didn’t hurt either.

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We perused the shelves of specialty grocery items and wines, but only briefly as we were both ready to bury our faces in some food.  The menu was filled with a variety of salads, sandwiches, and plates all under $15.  I have a pretty good feeling this is going to be a constantly evolving menu, utilizing in-season produce and fresh, local ingredients.

PicMonkey Collage2The wife ordered the quinoa salad with grapefruit, fennel, pistachio, and yogurt dressing on the side.  Being the fan of quinoa that I am (I’ve not always been), I just had to steal a couple of bites.  It was a perfect spring salad with the vibrant grapefruit and the distinct licorice flavor of the sliced fennel.  The yogurt dressing added to the freshness and rounded out the salad.

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My meal selection was a little more difficult as my eyes were instantly drawn to the cheeseburger with Vermont cheddar.  But with a desire to mix things up a bit, I ordered the roast chicken leg quarter with grilled brussel sprouts, mashed potatoes, and crispy shallots.  Let me just start by saying, I have never eaten two pieces of chicken so beautifully butchered in all my life.  It was all so…pretty.  The potatoes were wonderfully creamy and the shallots contributed a nice crunch to each bite.  There was also some sort of acid or vinegar reduction that was drizzled on the dish that helped cut through richness  of the meat and potatoes.  Now back to the chicken…although we had to wait quite some time for the plate to come out, it was well worth it.  The leg and thigh were cooked to perfection.  The skin was golden brown and nicely peppered, and the meat was succulent.  I don’t know if this is possible, but the meat tasted clean and sinfully decadent at the same time.

Even though the portions were on the small side, the meal was still incredibly satisfying.  And did I mention they serve beignets ALL DAY?!  I’ll definitely be sinking my teeth into one of those fried pillows of goodness next time we’re there.  So if there was any question.  Yes.  We will be back.  The high quality of their ingredients and the skillful precision with which their dishes are executed are sure to keep patrons returning again and again.  And seriously…beignets?  All day??  Gotta love it.

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So I hope you enjoyed reading about our wonderful dining experience.  You can look forward to this new weekly feature, and since it’s def marvelous in our book, we thought it’d be perfect for Katie’s, MIMM link-up.  Until next time…

Posted in Austin Eats, Dating, Food, MIMM | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Herbed Walnuts

Welcome to another edition of The Recipe Redux!  For this month, “Green with Herb Envy” was the name of the challenge.  Spring is officially upon us…although for some of you it may be hard to believe as you look out the window and see snow covered grounds.  Here in Texas, the temperature has been in the 80s lately.  I know…foreshadowing of another brutal summer to come.  While I’m not ready for the heat just yet, I am looking forward to all the greens sprouting up like nobody’s business.  I mean, I love you sweet potatoes, squash, and all you not so attractive root veggies, but I’m ready to see some fresh greens ;).

The challenge was to use a fresh green herb in a nontraditional way, which means sprinkling it on top of pastas or various dishes won’t work.  Eeks!  I was in trouble since that’s basically all I do with them.  Not to mention the only herbs that I really use are basil, cilantro…ummm basil (sheepishly).

I’ve heard that herbs are super easy to grow and bullet-proof…so then why do they all commit suicide under my care?  Is there really no hope for me?

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While I like to modify recipes to my liking, this was not the time to do so since I lack the knowledge pertaining to various herb food pairings, applications, flavor profiles, etc.  Hence, I searched high and low for a recipe that intrigued me.  After what seemed like an eternity, I finally found one…walnuts with rosemary and thyme!  I would never have thought of this combination.  Check it out!

IMG_9168-4 blogRosemary and Thyme Walnuts

from Epicurious

Ingredients:

  • 5 tsp olive oil
  • 5 tsp pure maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbs chopped fresh rosemary
  • 3 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 cups walnut halves
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a bowl, whisk together: olive oil, maple syrup, cayenne pepper.  Stir in 1 Tbs of rosemary and 2 tsp of thyme.  Add walnut halves.  Toss well to coat.  Spread evenly on a baking sheet.  Bake until fragrant and crisp, 10-12 min.  As soon as it comes out of the oven, sprinkle with the remaining 1 tsp thyme and salt.  Cool completely.

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The only time rosemary and thyme make it into my food is at Thanksgiving.  Tim and I are not huge fans of these woody and fragrant herbs; granted we haven’t really given them a chance.  I remember being absolutely appalled by cilantro, but now it’s a staple at my house.  In any case, the aroma was such a delight..I can see myself sniffing them in times of great stress from now on ;).

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Nuts, in general, are nutrient-dense foods.  They are great sources of protein, healthy fat, fiber, a wide variety of nutrients (folic acid, niacin, vitamin E…), minerals (calcium, potassium, magnesium…), phenolic compounds, and phytoesterol (which has been shown to interfere with cholesterol absorption and help lower blood cholesterol).

While they are high in calories and fat, evidence from both epidemiological studies and clinical trials, shows that their regular consumption does not contribute to obesity nor increases the risk of developing diabetes.

According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, we are encouraged to consume more good fats and plant-based protein sources in our diet.  Out of all the nuts, walnuts contain the highest amount of omega-3 fatty acid, specifically the alpha-linolenic acid (which gets converted to EPA and DHA).  They also provide 4 grams per ounce of protein and are naturally sodium and cholesterol free.  While I can suggest a ton of research articles for you to read if you’d like more information (this one I particularly liked), walnuts.org has some excellent information as well as delicious recipes and helpful tips.

So how many walnuts should you consume in a day?  About 1 to 1.5 ounces which is about a handful (14-21 halves).  However, don’t forget – everything in moderation!  Practice portion control and eat sensibly, keeping in mind that too much of a good thing can also cause harm.  I definitely have to be intentional about this.  Ask Tim who  believes I may have been a squirrel in my past life.

I normally purchase walnuts in bulk from Costco and freeze them for easy snacking.  While I usually enjoy them raw, this recipe inspired me to spice it up from time to time.

These walnuts looked and tasted quite fancy and made me feel sophisticated ;).  So I’ve learned… rosemary and thyme aren’t just for stuffing and pork.  Together with the spiciness from the cayenne pepper,  sweetness from the syrup, and the obvious nuttiness from the walnuts, this is one exquisite treat.  I actually had to stop Tim from munching on more than his allotted portion.  I immediately thought this would be a great complement to wine.  Of course, Tim thought beer.  I see a wine and beer night in our near future ;).

As always, check out how the other Reduxers did on this challenge!


– What are some unique ways you enjoy herbs?

Posted in Food, Nutrition-related, Recipe Redux, recipes | Tagged , , , , | 15 Comments

Chobani ATX

On Wednesday, I attended a dinner event at Parkside Austin sponsored by Chobani!  A 5 course Chobani-inspired menu?  You don’t have to ask me twice ;).  I left my house extra early in anticipation of the madness that is SXSW.  And of course… I got lost and arrived 30 minutes late.  In my brief moment of weakness, I considered giving up and just going back home, but my growling tummy and curious palate helped me stay the course.  Lucky for me, the dinner hadn’t started yet.  I had only missed the cocktail time, but there wasn’t any Chobani in the drinks so I was fine with that ;).

PicMonkey CollageThe chef at Parkside was given the challenge of creating a menu using  Chobani products.  Did he deliver?  You are about to see…

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(Photo via courtesy of Lindsay)

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To start, we had a chilled avocado soup with blood orange, smoked trout caviar, and calabrese chili (?).  Quiet fancy, eh?  I had no idea what calabrese chili was, and I didn’t want to ask anyone as I was in the presence of some amazing foodies.  Regardless, the soup was delicious!  So refreshing and creamy without feeling too heavy.  A beautiful way to start the meal.

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The soup was followed by a local beet salad which had celery root, mache (?), coriander, yogurt jerky (!), and puffed mustard seeds.  First of all, the presentation was gorgeous!  Well actually, all the dishes were quite the lookers, but this one especially, thanks to the vibrant red from the beets.  The first thought that crossed my mind was, “ooh this bottom layer looks like a fruit roll-up.”  I’m sure that was the last thing on everyone else’s minds…I probably should’ve eaten everything together, but I picked at the beets first and was left with the rest which, as a result, looked quite lonely.  Oh and the yogurt jerky was very fun to eat.  Tasted like cheese.

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For the second course…hello, grilled prawns!  They were served with caramelized yogurt, carrots, and Ras El Hanout (?? as you can see there was one component in every dish that was a head scratcher for me).  It’s been such a long time since I last had prawns so this was quite a treat.  They were cooked and seasoned perfectly!  What else was exceptional was the caramelized yogurt.  I absolutely loved the distinct citrus note.

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The last savory dish was braised beef short ribs with yogurt farina, morello cherries, and green garlic.  I couldn’t help but think of Tim and wish that he could’ve tasted it.  I contemplated taking it to go for him, but I didn’t think it’d be very classy to ask for a to go box at an event like this.  Sorry hun.  I’m not a huge fan of short ribs as they are a bit too rich for me.  However, the tartness from the cherries and a slight tanginess from the yogurt made the experience truly enjoyable.

Now, for the grand finale…what I’d been waiting for since the beginning (we, women, always have room for dessert, right?)… Yogurt custard served alongside Texas strawberries, compressed mango, almond, and basil ice cream.  I will have to say that my favorite from the whole entire meal was this yogurt custard.  It didn’t scream out, “eat me!” like the rest.  It looked like a white log that jiggled like…custard.  But with one bite, I was sold!  It just tasted… so smooth. light. clean. with just the right amount of sweetness.  The crushed almonds accompanied it nicely with their subtle saltiness.  Everything on that plate was remarkable, but I found myself longing for more of that custard.  So that concludes the 5 course meal.  So I ask again, did the chef deliver?  Heck Yea!

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The three lovely ladies from Chobani, Emily, Emily, and Hillary (who all flew in from New York and are returning with their bellies full of tacos and more tacos) did such an amazing job coordinating the event and making all of us feel comfortable and welcomed.  From the conversations we shared, their love for the company and the products was unmistakeable.  There were about 15 of us food bloggers who were invited, along with respected guests.  It was my first time meeting other Austin bloggers, and boy I tell you, I was in the presence of some seriously talented food bloggers!  Delicious recipes, gorgeous photography, eloquent writing…I have a lot to learn from all of them.  Everyone was so friendly and down-to-earth that I felt more and more at ease as the night progressed.  To be honest, I was quite nervous at the beginning.

Great company.  Exceptional food.  Unforgettable experience.

Posted in Austin Eats, Food, Fun | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments