Friday, February 24, 2012

Brown and Wild Rice Salad with Miso Sesame Dressing

Like many people, I am looking for ways to add more vegetables and whole grains to my daily diet. Today I would like to share a recipe for Brown and Wild Rice Salad with Miso Sesame dressing. It is full of whole grained brown and wild rice and vegetable goodness such as carrots, bok choy and cucumber with nutritious tofu, sesame seeds and miso.

Now I realize some of the ingredients, perhaps the miso or wild rice, here may be a bit unusual or something you don’t keep in your pantry. One of the nice things about this recipe is that you can skip any number of items and make substitutions of things that are more to your liking.

I found the recipe for WILD RICE SALAD WITH MISO DRESSING on the blog  SPROUTED KITCHEN which describes itself as a tastier take on whole foods. It is full of wonderfully delicious recipes of nutrient dense whole foods. The beautiful photos make me hungry for good things. Go check out all the wonderful recipes on Sprouted Kitchen!

 I modified a few things in the recipe here and I imagine you might make a couple of changes yourself.  I added a bit more of everything but miso since I wanted to lower sodium a bit. In addition I used more vegetables and added brown rice along with the wild rice. Next time, I may use only the wild and brown rice blend.  I cooked the veggies a bit and even added the rice and miso sesame dressing to meld the flavors together. I served it hot the first time, more like a stir fry than a salad. I switched around a few ingredients in the dressings, too.

While this salad is delicately beautiful, it packs a nutritious punch, with nearly every ingredient adding significantly to the nutritional benefits. What are the nutritional benefits?

To start brown rice, a great source of fiber, and B vitamins. Brown rice also contains very high levels of manganese along with selenium, a trace mineral which may help fight cancer. Brown rice also contains many nutrients which may lower cholesterol and benefit cardiovascular health.  There are phytonutrients found in brown rice which may be even better for you than those found in fruits and vegetables, according to website- the world’s healthiest foods. ( )

Wild rice, which is a grass seed and not really rice, is high in fiber, protein, potassium, manganese, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus and a good blend of B vitamins.
Even little sesame seeds are a very good source of copper and manganese and a good source of  magnesium,  calcium, iron, phosphorus and zinc.  Edamame, green soy beans, are high in fiber, iron, and protein and full of good things like vitamin A and C . Edamame seems to promote good heart health.  And do I need to tell you all the good things in carrots?? You can get nearly half of your vitamin A requirement in a small serving.

Okay, we are not done yet! This yummy salad also has tofu. Why should you eat tofu? Well, calorie for calorie, it has more protein than ground beef or cheese yet is considerably lower in fat and has NO cholesterol, making it an excellent source of protein not only for vegetarians but for anyone wanting to limit fat or cholesterol. Tofu also contains calcium and iron.
This recipe is just so adaptable. I love how it can be served warm as well as chilled.  It is nice to have it warm the first time and then save the rest to be served cold as a salad. It is full of wonderfully nutritious and great tasting things plus if you make a big enough batch it will last several lunches.

Brown and Wild Rice Salad with Miso Sesame Dressing

1 cup wild and brown rice blend, I use Lundberg, cooked with wild rice or according to package

½ cup of wild rice, cooked according to package or together with brown rice blend

12-14 oz Extra firm Tofu, silky or regular, drained, pat dry and cut into small cubes

2-3 tsp coconut oil

2 -3 tsp. soy sauce

2-3 tsp  olive or canola oil

 1 cup thinly sliced carrots

1 cup+ thinly slice bok choy

1 cup cooked, shelled organic edamame

½ cucumber , quartered and  sliced

1-2 TBSP toasted  sesame seeds

      Sweet  Miso Sesame Dressing

2-3 TBSP white miso*

3 TBSP Rice Vinegar

3 TBSP honey

1 TBSP sesame oil

Juice of small Meyers lemon or orange

2 tsp ginger, crushed (bottled ginger paste is fine!)

1 tsp soy sauce, low sodium if watching sodium intake

3 TBSP canola Light olive or vegetable oil,

Garnish- All optional

3 green onions, sliced

¼ chopped cucumber

1 TBSP toasted sesame seed and 1 TBSP Black sesame seeds,

2 TBSP cilantro chopped

Cook the wild rice and the brown rice blend. You could cook each separately but I think it would be fine to cook the brown and wild rice blend with the extra wild rice added. I like to add just a little bit more water than called for and cook it a bit longer so wild rice is softer.

Next make the dressing.  *If you don’t have miso or prefer not to use it, that is fine. You could make this with just a sesame ginger dressing- Increase soy sauce And ginger to 1 TBSP add an extra tsp of sesame oil and an extra TBSP of veggie, olive or canola oil. Maybe throw in a tsp or two of toasted sesame seeds.

In a large shallow pan, add coconut oil and heat to medium high. Pat tofu dry with paper towel and then cut tofu  into small cubes. You could put light dusting of corn starch if you like. Add cut up tofu cubes. Cook till Brown, not turning too often. Add soy sauce. 
Remove tofu to bowl and add oil to pan. Stir fry carrots for a few minutes or two then add bok choy and cook for a few more minutes. Add rice and edamame. Stir fry for a minute or so.  Add as much of the dressing as you like. Let it cool a bit then put into bowl and mix with tofu, cucumber, 1 TBSP sesame seeds and blend gently. Add more or all of dressing to taste.
You may let it cool in fridge a bit or serve immediately. This salad makes awesome leftovers!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chocolate and Coconut Granola Squares

Today I want to share with you a recipe for a snack that is tasty, healthful and easy to make. I saw a recipe for delicious looking chocolate granola bars on the wonderful blog-- Dinner, Dishes and Desserts I modified the recipe a bit to make them more tempting to my mom, adding coconut and almonds and toasting the oatmeal with them. 

This simple-to-make snack does not have heaps of sugar added, just a ¼ cup of honey and the sugar in the peanut butter, coconut and chocolate chips. Yet it tastes sweet and decadent.  Rather than oil or butter, these have coconut oil which is reported to be more healthful and perhaps even beneficial.  In addition, some coconut oils give a subtle hint of coconut flavor, which is enhanced by adding toasted shredded coconut.

The coconut, oatmeal, and almonds are all toasted with some coconut oil before everything is combined. Toasting brings out some more natural sweetness and a delicate crunch. Everything together creates a pleasing blend of flavors and textures that was a hit with the little boys I take care of and my mom, who is always in need of heathful, sweet snacks. Enjoy!

 And go check out the blog- Dinner, Dishes and Desserts.

Chocolate and Coconut Granola Squares

¼  cup coconut oil
1/3 cup peanut butter, natural, low sugar prefered
1/3 cup honey, try to get organic, local
2  Tbsp. coconut oil
1 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
2  Tbsp. coconut oil
 2/3  cup shredded sweetened coconut
 ½ cup sliced almonds
1/2  cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350. Put 2 TBSP coconut oil in rectangular baking pan and place in oven as it preheats to melt. Mix oats, coconut and almonds and toast in 350 oven for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice until coconut is browned. Do keep an eye on it so that it does not burn. Remove around 2 TBSP to sprinkle on the top
Line a 8x 8 pan with aluminum foil.
Meanwhile, In a small sauce pan heat coconut oil, peanut butter, and honey over a medium heat. Once melted and fully combined, mix in semi-sweet chocolate chips and stir until the chocolate chips are melted. Next add oats, coconut and almond slices and blend well. Spread into prepared 8×8 pan. Sprinkle the reserved 2 TBSP of oat mixture over the top.
 Put in fridge until completely set. Remove from pan to  cutting board and cut into squares. Store in fridge.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Potato and Chicken Korma

Potato and Chicken Korma

I felt like making Indian food last night and my daughter and I decided on Korma.  Funny thing:  although I have eaten Korma many times,  I was  not really sure what Korma was until I read up on it.   I have had korma from different countries and there seems to be some elements I have come to think of as belonging but I am still not sure the difference between korma and various kinds of curry! For our meal last night, our  “adopted” daughter from India was here and let me know her preferences for spices and what not and I have eaten korma often enough to know what I was looking for in this dish.
Now I know some people will read my recipe here and say “no, that is not right!” but I have come to understand that curries are like BBQ in the USA: everyone has their own regional or personal ideas of what ingredients are authentic in the sauce  and how it is to be cooked. People have strong opinions on what is correct although this opinion varies from person to person and place to place. So I apologize if my version offends, dear readers and you are more than welcome to share your recipes in the comments J

My limited understanding of korma is that it is kind of stew like- vegetables or meat braised with onions, tomatoes, chilies with spices like coriander, turmeric.  I used mustard seeds, cumin seeds, garam masala and a pinch of cinnamon and yogurt added to the sauce. It can vary in spiciness and main ingredients but  I used potato as the main item along with chicken. I was planning on making a vegetarian Korma only but ended up splitting the korma into two pots- one with chicken since my dinner guests like to have some meat.

For this recipe, I used both types of potatoes listed here- russet and red. Russets are more flakey and break apart. I like their flavor and texture and if you were only going to use one type I would opt for russet. Red potatoes have a nice flavor with a waxy, harder texture that keeps its shape better, keeping its form even if you cook and stir a long time. Using both means you will have smaller bits and chunks of potato in the finished dish.

You may also spice and season this according to your taste. Kormas can be mild or spicy so do whatever you like best.  I used mustard oil  (from Indian food store) and mustard seeds because our “daughter” likes it this way but if you don’t like mustard, skip it! Use mild chilies if you don’t like it hot and even skip them and some spice if you prefer.

You will need two pans for this- a large shallow skillet for browning and a nice, deep pot such as a dutch oven or 5 quart pot.

Potato and Chicken Korma

Vegetable oil  and/ or Mustard oil  
1 tsp. each whole mustard seed and whole cumin seed
4 small whole  red chilies, dried or 2 green chilies, minced
1 – 1 &  ½  large onions
3 Russet and 3 red potatoes or whatever potatoes you want to use, washed, peeled and diced
1 tsp coriander AND turmeric
1-2 Tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. Garlic powder
1 small pinch of cinnamon AND one of cloves
2-3  cups vegetable broth
Chicken thighs, about 5, boneless, skinless, diced
5-7 roma tomatoes , small diced
2 tsp. garlic paste
1 tsp. ginger paste
2 bay leaves
2-4curry leaves optional
1 cup or so Greek yogurt, 2% or regular yogurt (may substitute  coconut milk if avoiding dairy)

Prep potatoes, wash, peel and cut into bite size chunks. Make sure potato pieces are very dry.  Heat large, shallow skillet and add vegetable oil or a mix of veggie and mustard oil if you like. Once oil is hot add mustard and cumin seeds and heat till they pop and jump. Add potatoes and spices and cook on medium-high. Don’t overcrowd pan or turn pieces over too often until potatoes start to brown and crisp. Lightly Brown on at least a couple sides . Add onions and chilies and cook for 4 minutes.  Remove potatoes to a large pot- 5 qt. or so. Add vegetable or chicken broth to the large deep pot and begin to simmer on med-low.

Cut chicken into bite sized pieces, season with salt and pepper and add to the shallow skillet with a bit of oil. Brown for a couple minutes and then add diced tomatoes, garlic, and ginger.  Cook for a minute and then add to the large pot of potatoes along with bay leaves, curry leaves and vegetable broth.   Heat on med-low for about 30 minutes or more until potatoes are nice and soft and chicken is cooked through.   Remove from heat and cool a bit. Remove bay, curry leaves and chilies.  Add yogurt, mix well and heat on low.

Serve over basmati rice or coconut-cashew rice, with naan or paratha and perhaps a dahl or vegetable dish .

Friday, February 3, 2012

Enjoying Dinner with Friends

Last week we had a delightful evening with friends at their house. We brought soup, pasta and chocolate cake while Bailey and Ryan provided the beautiful home along with salad and bread. Their house-mate, Shawn bought some lovely wine. I think sharing dinner together is such a great way to connect yet it can be difficult on busy work days if one person has to make everything. Sharing the load makes it easier and more fun. It was such a relaxing and enjoyable evening!

 Bailey wrote about our evening on her blog. She is a very talented photographer and writer as well as an incredible musician. She has one of the most beautiful voices-- think angel meets rock and roll. Her husband Ryan and Shawn are also very talented musicians and I am not sure how many bands they are in between them but I know I enjoy all of their music.  My son got a chance to chat some with fellow musicians, which he enjoyed. Bailey's blog is always fun and inspiring and you can read about our dinner here and see Bailey's great photos.

I will post the pasta recipe soon but if you would like to sample the soup we enjoyed you can check out the recipe from last year for Butternut squash soup . The chocolate cake is the one I posted a few weeks ago.

We enjoyed several fun dinners this week and each one was a group effort with lots of people sharing the load for each dinner. We had a couple of dinner clubs here and had Taco salad night with people bringing something to add to the salad or dessert.

We got a call from our Newly-wed friends, John and Natalie to come join them at their cute little old log cabin where they made delicious pizza and we brought salad. We got to see pictures from the honey-moon :-)

Four dinners in a row would be a lot of work if I was doing all the cooking but many hands make light work!   Dinner with friends doesn't have to be labor intensive to be fun!I hope you are inspired to get together with friends and family for dinner this week and share the work to make it fun for everyone!!