Archive for ‘healthy’

April 5th, 2012

Bruschetta

They say all married couples start to look like each other.  Is it true?  Today, my husband said, “You are turning into me.”  Why?  After eating my homemade bruschetta with a fresh baguette, I said, “I could eat all of this bread by myself.”

In my single days, bread was my least favorite carb.  Did I ever even buy a baguette?  Sure, I like bread, but if I’m going to consume lots of guilty calories, I’d rather it be something nutritious and versatile.  Bread is pretty much the least nutritious and the least versatile of all carbs compared to Japanese rice or pasta/noodles.  I firmly believe that I’m right, but I married a bread snob, who claims he could eat a dozen of bagels if I leave him alone for the day.  On top of that, he doesn’t like rice, so I have to find interesting ways to use less-than-nutritious bread.  One of which, is bruschetta.

My recipe is quick and simple.  Dice tomato, chop garlic & onion, chiffonade basil leaves add olive oil, add a squeeze of lemon juice, and good salt to taste.  Leave in a tightly lid container for a few hours to overnight in the fridge.  Spread on a nice piece of bread and you’ll feel like you are biting into a little of Italy; bright, fresh and delicious  It’s so good that it may change your opinion of that evil white bread.  It surely changed mine.  At least I found a way to include fresh vegetables so that I don’t feel guilty reaching for that third piece.  Maybe I am turning into my husband.

 

April 2nd, 2012

The Tofu Switcheroo

Lasagne is a great comfort food.  How could it miss with hearty meat sauce, noodles, and melted cheese all in the same bite!  I have nothing against beef, but recent news items have made me rethink my desire to eat burgers and steaks everyday.  With that in mind, don’t tell my husband, but I occasionally substitute the beef in my lasagne with turkey.

The result?  I think the text he sent me after his first bite, said it all: “Damn, that’s good lasagne!”

Am I being greedy to think I know how to make this healthy lasagne even healthier without sacrificing taste?

How, you ask?  Tofu.  Tofu is an essential part of the Japanese diet.  We eat it everyday with most of our meals.  It can be consumed many, many ways, as is, in soup, a steak or in a casserole.  It’s popularity is simple: it’s delicious, nutritious and versatile.

Even with all its selling points, my Asian food-phobic husband doesn’t approve of this particular item.  Why?  He thinks it looks too cubic–too futuristic; something from a not too far off time where we eat capsules instead of savor meals.  To get him to eat it  I have to be sneaky creative.  Regular lasagne recipes often use a mixture of ricotta cheese, egg, and parsley.  Instead, I use a mixture of crumbled tofu, egg whites and chopped kale.  I also added layers of mushroom and spinach.  Delicious! The tofu switcheroo turned out to be the perfect April Fool’s Day hoax!

 

 

January 24th, 2012

Japanese comfort food

“Eat as much seafood as you can!”  That, and “I love you,” were my husband’s parting words, when I left for Tokyo. What thoughts led to his advice? At least one, but probably all of these: if she eats lots of seafood in the land of seafood,
1) she won’t come home craving more.
2) I don’t have to hear her say “Let’s go for Japanese tonight!”
3) I don’t have to see/smell strange fish products in the house like this;
4) While she’s eating all of her favorites, I’ll eat as much American food as possible!

He’s wrong on 1), 2) and 3), but after seeing a breakfast picture he sent, looks like he’s right on the money for 4).
We all enjoy our comfort foods, but what do you imagine when you hear ‘Japanese comfort food’? It may be ramen, curry rice or macaroni gratins (Google it! It’s the Japanese answer to mac & cheese). Contrary to what you might guess, not all Japanese foods are healthy and based around seafood. Japanese cuisine does include some heartier dishes that people grow up with, that are as delicious as their American counterparts. But today, when looking for my comfort food, I wanted salt, not heavy.  So what was on the menu?Here’s what my mother prepared: from bottom left-counterclockwise: a bowl of perfectly cooked white rice; miso soup with daikon; squid in salted fish guts; spicy cod roe; and Japanese pickles.  It doesn’t look like much, but it’s truly an art to cook rice perfectly. You don’t just throw grains into water and boil.  You have to start with good quality rice that’s washed carefully. Then, the quantity and quality of the water and the method you cook and steam it comes in to play. Granted, the last two parts depend largely on how good your rice cooker is, but I’ve never had rice half good as this in America.

I’ll tell you more about awful sounding fish dishes tomorrow.  Until then, have another bowl of rice!

PS: PS: Do you remember what Iron Chef Morimoto requested for his last supper on episode 15 of Top Chef All-Stars?   If Antonia cooked something like my mother prepared for me, she would have won the competition.

October 11th, 2011

Reasons to eat salad (not a lecture to eat healthy)

Eating salad isn’t always about health.  Actually, to be honest, sometimes it’s about the complete opposite of health.  No, I’m not talking about one of those ‘salads‘ loaded with cheese and bacon masquerading as health food…After a nice lunch at our new favorite cafe, Natas Pastries, we brought home this delectable dessert.  It has a really nice flaky shortbread-like crust with a tasty custard AND whipped cream inside.  You’d think from looking at it, that it would be on the sweet side, but it wasn’t overly sugared at all and its big plus: it tasted fresh!  Have you ever noticed that some pastry shops have great looking stuff, but after one bite, all you taste is the refrigerator that it was stored in?  That’s one of my biggest pet peeves, and sadly, there’s almost no way to predict its occurrence when trying a new place.  When my husband first surprised me with something sweet from Nata’s, I was worried about the potential for ‘fridge contamination’.  After my first bite, I didn’t care that I was wrong…all I could concentrate on was, ‘mmmmmmm’.  Somehow, the pastries at Natas’ always taste as if they were just made an hour ago.  It’s some sort of restaurant ‘magic’ that they can consistently produce that fresh taste, considering that Nata’s is a small cafe with a large pastry case!  Could you pass a place like that without picking up a couple of treats?  If you can, you’re better than I am!

When you know you’re going to eat sweets, you have to plan ahead.  So, I ordered Delicias do Mar, a seafood salad for lunch.  I consider this ‘spending calories consciously’.  Save a few by eating a salad, and then you can splurge those savings on dessert! The Delicias do Mar salad comes with big shrimp and includes crab salad.  Unfortunately, the “Crab” in “Crab salad” should have been spelled “Krab”, but the big shrimp and fresh and crispy romaine lettuce made up for it.

My second reason for ordering a salad?  If I save my calories, I can also splurge on sampling my husband’s typically heartier selection.  I’m not alone on this, as I know women around the world fool themselves into thinking they’re eating healthy by ordering salad and then stealing half their dinner companion’s fries.  Men probably fear hearing “Can I have a fry?” as much as they dread a conversation that begins with, “We need to talk.” On this day, my husband too, lost his manly battle as the French panini with brie and caramelized onions just looked too good to resist.  My husband actually lost two battles that day, as my ‘taste’ of his sandwich, that I’m now obsessed with, turned out to be half of his portion, AND, his chance to have the favor returned by sharing my dish was canceled out by the fact that he hates seafood.  Sounds like I planned it out in advance, doesn’t it?  Shhhh…maybe he won’t figure it out!