Recipe: Asian Inspired Stirfry

Is it just me, or is time passing by really quickly? I can’t believe that we’re almost in the middle of May! I feel like I blinked and the year is nearly half over. But, a lot of great things have been accomplished so far this year (like going to Florida for a work conference, making it through my first Bikram class after a hiatus for more than a year, and finding an awesome room mate) so really, there’s no need for me to complain.

The only real thing I have to complain about are my allergies. Those damn dandelions that grow on every inch of land in my neighbourhood are dying and thus, their white little fluffiness is flying around everywhere. Granted, since I’ve started eating better they aren’t as severe as before. Still, I wake up in the morning feeling groggy and exhausted. Sometimes it takes me a minute to remember whether or not I went out drinking the night before or not. Yeah, it’s that bad.

Today’s post isn’t about allergies or amazing trips to Florida, it’s about making a kick-ass stir fry! Last week, I shared with you a recipe for a Thai inspired stir fry and this week, I’m raising the bar with this little diddy,  an Asian inspired stir fry with homemade tereyaki sauce. You’re welcome!

Maybe even hearing the word “home made” is making you cringe. Are you conjuring up images of an old 1950’s house wife slaving away in her kitchen for hours? Don’t. This recipe is super easy and super delicious. Not only that, but you know exactly what you’re putting into your sauce.

Ginger is key for this recipe. It adds a bit of heat and just enough zing to make your mouth water for more. You can even use it as  marinade for chicken or beef. I wish I thought of that before! But it’s still amazing either way.

Ingredients – The Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 1/8 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced (or grated)
  • 3 tbsp of agave or honey
  • 1 to 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 tsp of corn starch

Method:

Combine all of the ingredients, except for the cornstarch, in a small sauce pan.

Cook on medium heat and stir rapidly with a whisk until the mixture has boiled (about 3 minutes or so).

Then, add the cornstarch and mix it in until the liquid thickens. Voila, done!

This was so simple, it wasn’t even funny. Or was it?

Add to your stir fry or use as a marinade for meats.

For my stir fry, I used water chestnuts, carrots, broccoli, green onion and chilli flakes to add some heat. I had some leftover quinoa so I mixed that in with my stir fry. Delicious!

Enjoy!

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Recipe: Thai Inspired Stir Fry

Today’s recipe is an oldy but a goody. If you like Thai food but don’t want leave your apartment to get take-out or not enough funds in the bank to go to Thailand BUT you do have enough veggies in the fridge to make this (more or less) then you are in luck!

In keeping with the garlic theme, I made sure to include garlic in this recipe – and believe you me, it was a wise decision! It added a certain sweetness to the curry that otherwise would not have been there. Or maybe it was due to the coconut milk. Either way, it turned out pretty darned good.

In my quest to find foods that are both antiviral yet delicious, I stumbled upon coconuts. Coconuts for me have become this wonder fruit and I try to incorporate this ingredient into as many meals and drinks as I can on a daily basis. In my previous post all about coconuts, I gush about how not only they are high in magnesium (which is excellent if you are active) but they kill the bad bacteria in your gut and aid to flush it all out. Incredible.

Give this a try and let me know what you think!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of coconut milk (I used light organic)
  • 1 handful of baby carrots – chopped
  • 1/4 head of broccoli – the florets only
  • 1/4 cup of red onion – finely chopped
  • Chicken (as desired) – make sure it’s cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 bell pepper – cut into strips length-wise
  • 1 small romano tomato – diced
  • 2 baby bella mushrooms – diced
  • 1/4 tsp of chili powder (or to taste)
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp of coriander
  • 1/4 tsp of turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp of cumin
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 2 servings of brown rice pasta, brown/wild rice or quinoa

Method:

Heat the oil in a pan and add the spices and let this simmer until fragrant (usually about a minute or so). Add the onions and stir.

The red onions sizzling in the pan with the spices.

Then add the chicken pieces, tomatoes and mushrooms. Let all of this goodness simmer for about 5 minutes.

Here she is…in all of her glory….

Next, stir in the coconut milk (you’ll want to slowly mix this in so that it doesn’t splatter everywhere).

This is what I used…YUM!

Flip the chicken pieces over (they should be browned by now) and then add the broccoli and the bell peppers.

Stir everything together. Let everything simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes or until the broccoli has cooked. You’ll know it’s cooked when it starts to appear softer in texture.

By now your rice pasta/rice/quinoa should be ready. Add this in and mix it all in together! Don’t be shy!

Let everything sit for a few minutes and serve.

The final product! I had 2 helpings and even had enough for lunch the next day.

Serves 2-3 people.

Prep time: 5 to 10 minutes

Cook time: 10 to 20 minutes

Total: 30 minutes

Enjoy!

Recipe: Veggie Stir Fry with Whole Grain Rice

In keeping with my theme of Whole Grains, I’ve decided to share a simple recipe for a veggie stir fry. Stir fries have been featured quite a bit on this blog mainly because they are so easy to make and … Continue reading

Detox: Day 8 and Feeling Great!

Day eight of the detox. I’m starting to notice more of a difference especially in my energy level and mood. I initially did the detox because I was feeling sluggish and a bit depressed. I thought that by not only feeding my body properly but also focusing more attention on myself, I would start to feel better – and it’s working.

I have a few challenges up ahead, notably, this weekend is my mom’s birthday and I’m not sure how well the conversation will go with my “meat and potatoes” Irish descendant parents about why I am not partaking in birthday cake. I can hear their pleading yet mocking voices now, “One little piece won’t kill you…..” Sure, it won’t kill me, but it will kill all of my hard work so far. By then, I would be on day 13 – so that’s nearly 2 solid weeks of sacrifice and thoughtful planning down the tubes. Once you eat anything on the “no no” list, it’s over. I wish we had a dog. Or more kids in my family (I’m an only child) so no sneaking the cake to a sibling or pet.

I could always do like in that one Seinfeld episode when Jerry doesn’t want to eat the mutton so he spits it out in Grandma Memma’s napkins. Please tell me you know what I’m talking about! If not, here’s a clip (sorry for the poor quality).

Anyways, the fact that I’m already feeling so much better has been totally worth it and after another week or so, I’ll feel even more better. So that’s exciting!

I’ve also started my running challenge and I even pushed myself to get up a bit earlier this morning to get my run in. For those that know me, they know that I am NOT a morning person. Snooze and I have been intimate lovers for many, many years – possibly my longest relationship. BUT, despite my everlasting love for Snooze, I just forced myself to get up and get out the door as quickly as possible.

My roommate saw me in the hall and was very confused, “Yo…it’s not even 7:30am and you’re up?!”. All I could mutter, more to myself than to him was,  “Yup. Yup, I’m up.”

On the bright side, by the time my workout was over, I was just starting to wake up and I had lots of energy for most of the day. The exhaustion didn’t hit me like a brick wall until a couple of hours after lunch. But even though my body was tired, my mind was alert and the afternoon passed quicker than it usually did sans exercise. It’s enough to motivate me to do it all over again tomorrow. I know, I’m definitely on fire this week!

Wish me luck!

So, I’m on a massive stir fry kick these days mostly because by the time I get home after a long day (especially one like today) and Mondays are killer for me too. Stir fries are quick and relatively easy to prepare. Plus, you get to be as creative as you like with ingredients.

Here’s what I made tonight:

Tonight's Dinner!

Tonight's Dinner!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsps onion diced
  • 1 roma tomato diced
  • 1 clove diced
  • 3 skinless, boneless, chicken thighs chopped
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 thyme tumeric
  • 1/3 tsp thyme
  • 3 tbsps of oil (olive, grapeseed, coconut – any one of these is great)
  • 10 baby carrots chopped
  • 1/3 red bell pepper chopped
  • 1/2 floret of brocoli chopped
  • 1/3 medium sized zucchini chopped (I left the skin on but you could always peel it off you don’t like it)
  • 1 handful of sprouts
  • 1 handful of baby spinach
  • 1 cup of brown rice pasta (I just bought fussili but use whatever floats your boat)

Method:

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the spices. In the mean time, cook the pasta. Chop the onion and garlic and add it to the frying pan. Stir the ingredients in the spicy oil. In the meantime, chop the chicken and add it to the pan. While the chicken is simmering away, grab a medium to large sized bowl and chop all veggies except the sprouts and spinach and add to the bowl. Pour a bit of oil on top of the veggies and stir it around.

This is great time to check on the chicken. Grab a pair of tongs and flip the chicken over and let it cook for a few more minutes. While I wait, I usually do some dishes quickly to kill some time. Once the chicken has cooked enough (brown on the outside) add the veggies to the pan. Then add spinach and sprouts on top and let it sit for a minute or so. The pasta should be ready by this time. Drain it and add it to the stir fry. Stir all the ingredients around with the tongs. Let simmer and stir off and on for another 5 to 8 minutes.

You’ll know it’s ready when the sprouts and spinach are limp.

This should serve about 2 or 3 people OR enough for a second helping and lunch the next day. The entire process should take about 20 to 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

Detox: Day Four

What a week! I only had a three day work week but Heaven knows that it felt like at least a six day week compressed into three.  I think it was mainly because of the adjustment to the detox diet and the fact that I had four glorious days off – which meant lots of sleeping in and lounging about, then when that alarm goes off for work I had to snap back into reality and get with the program: work, errands, house work, obligations. Not complaining – but I’m glad it’s Friday!

One aspect of the detoxing that I really like is that it gives me the opportunity to just take a break and do things that I don’t normally get the opportunity to do (scratch that – allot myself the opportunity to do).  This weekend, for once in a long time, I don’t have any serious plans. No scheduled dinners or birthday parties, no events or trips out of town to make. I just get to be at home all weekend and hibernate if I want to. And I just might. I have a mountain of laundry that needs some attention and I need to organize and clean my room before I trip and break my neck. I also want to spend time to catch up on some reading that I haven’t had the energy to do lately. Mainly, I just want to catch up with myself.

But the detox does have its drawbacks. I don’t want to paint this super rosy picture that this week so far has been a breeze. Frankly, it’s been quite challenging. There’s nothing I wanted more, most mornings, than a nice cup of chai tea with soy milk. Or one of my roommates fresh (?) buns that taunt me when I open the fridge to grab some spinach for my stir fry (that I’ve had for dinner and lunch two days in a row). Or the overwhelming craving for a nice, cold, pint of beer after a long week. Instead, I came home, had a nap and went for a run. Then I rewarded myself with a spinach salad with some smoked salmon on top (the recipe is below). It was AMAZING and very satifsfying! Almost made me forget about that pint that I was so looking forward to. But, there’s light at the end of the tunnel: I’ll be finishing my detox in time to celebrate my Irish heritage on St. Paddy’s day and will hopefully be feeling a lot less sluggish and shed those few pounds that I gained over the last month. More importantly, I hope to have regained some better eating habits instead of resorting to pizza when I’m starving after work.

Here’s that spinach salad I was gloating about:

Spinach Salad with Spicy Smoked Salmon

Ingredients:

  • 2 or 3 handfuls of baby spinach
  • 8-10 baby carrots (chopped)
  • 1 slice of red onion (chopped)
  • 2 handfuls of sprouts
  • 1/4 of an avocado
  • 1/4 of lemon (juice)
  • 1 lime (juice)
  • Oregano
  • Salmon (sliced)
  • Olive oil (3 tbsps)
  • Chilli powder (1/4 tsp)
  • Black pepper (1/4 tsp)

Method:

In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil and add the spices once the oil is warm. Let the spices simmer for a minute then add the salmon. Let cook until the meat darkens. While this is cooking, grab a large bowl (you can either eat this as a meal or make it and share it with a friend).  Layer the spinach, carrots, onion, avocado and sprouts in the bowl. Squeeze the lemon slice and the lime over top of the salad. Sprinkle the dried oregano on top. Once the salmon has finished cooking, place the salmon on top of the salad and drizzle the spicy oil on the salad. Mix it all together, and voila!

Of course, you can add or replace whatever veggies you like but I found that this combination was very satisfying. Next time, I’d definitely add cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. If I weren’t detoxing, I’d add some goat cheese or feta, too. If you wanted to add some grains, you could always mix in some cooked quinoa. Why not? AND you could always replace the salmon with chicken (chopped up and fried in the same oil). Okay. I’ll stop and let you try this out for yourself.

Enjoy!

Detox: Always seems like a good idea at the time….

Well, I wish I had a good excuse for why I’ve been MIA the past couple of months, but I don’t. The holiday season was pretty crazy for me and my work load exploded. So between working lots and a full social calendar, I didn’t have much time to cook let alone blog. Then after Christmas, I had a few personal things to deal with and now, I’m back on track!

Since my eating habits needed a lot of fine tuning after one too many pizza nights and pitchers of beer, I recruited a friend of mine to do a detox diet with me for the next few weeks. What that means is: no dairy, no wheat, no refined sugar, no caffeine, no booze, and no smoking – basically, no junk!

It’s day 2 and I have to admit, it’s pretty tough so far. Temptations are everywhere! I was walking home from work tonight, starving, and I saw a massive poster for a large pizza for only $5. You have no idea how tempting that was. Or maybe you do. But I stayed focused and realized that quitting on day 2 is pretty lame, even for someone as inconsistent as me.

The secret of doing these kinds of diets is to plan ahead and make sure that you have enough of the right food on hand so that you don’t blow your diet and order a pizza (like I almost did) because you’re way too starving to even open the fridge. I’ve been there – it’s riduculous.

It’s amazing, too, how when you “deprive” yourself of certain things, it seems like that’s when you want it most. Today, for instance, was my first day back at work after four glorious days off and my eyes didn’t stop burning for one minute the entire day. Nope, not one single minute. All I wanted was a nice cup of chai tea or even a small cup of coffee to get the motor going but I’m not allowed. I ended up just sitting, staring blankly at my computer screen and imagining how delicious and satisfying a cup of coffee would be. Out of sheer will, I snapped out of it and got a cup of green tea and some water instead.  It only took about 5 cups of green tea before I sort of felt like myself again and by then, it was 4:30pm; almost time to go home. I think tomorrow will be better. It`s got to be. I’ve done these detox diets before and I always find that the first days are the hardest (mostly mentally).

For me, the hardest things to give up are drinking alcohol and dairy. To get through, I usually make a deal with myself that at the end of my detox, I’ll treat myself to a nice glass of red wine and some goat’s milk ice cream. Not both at the same time.

Anyways, today was pretty easy – for breakfast I had 2 eggs and some soy milk blended with strawberries; for lunch I had a MASSIVE spinach salad and for dinner, I had a delicious stir fry. I sent pictures to my friends who’s doing the detox with me and he was pretty jealous so I promised him that I’d blog about it. You’re welcome!

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsps Olive Oil
  • 1/4 tsp Thyme
  • 1/4 tsp (or to taste) Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/4 Black Pepper
  • 1/3 Turmeric
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 lime
  • 2 cloves of garlic choped
  • 3 chicken skinless/boneless chicken thighs (breast would work too, that just sounds wrong)
  • Bean Sprouts (a handful)
  • 1/2 a tomato, diced
  • Spinach (a handful)
  • 1/2 a Red Bell Pepper (chopped)
  • 1/2 a Floret of Broccoli
  • 1 cup of brown rice pasta or 2 servings of brown rice

Method:

In a large frying pan or skillet, pour about 3 tablespoons of olive oil and let it heat up. Once it’s heated, add the spices and stir them around so that they mix in with the oil.

Boil the water and cook the rice pasta or rice as directed.

Once the spices have heated up and are fragrant, add the diced onion. Stir it in the spiced oil and lit it simmer. Add the garlic and the diced tomato and stir. Let it cook for about 3 or 4 minutes, until the onions become translucent. Squeeze the juice from the lemon and the lime and pour it in the pan.  Add the diced chicken and let it cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the broccoli and the red bell pepper. Stir all the ingredients together and make sure that the chicken pieces are cooked on both sides.

When the chicken looks like it’s mostly cooked (should be brown and nearly crispy on the outside with no visible raw skin showing), add the sprouts and the  spinach and stir, mixing all the ingredients. The stir fry is done when the spinach and sprouts are limp and have mixed in with the other ingredients.

When the rice pasta or rice is finished cooking, add to the pan and stir.

This should serve 2 but I like to put some aside for lunch the next day.

Enjoy!

Baked Salmon and Veggie Stir fry

Day two! Seriously, there is nothing better than waking up and realizing that your lunch is already made. Actually, the next best thing  is waking up and realizing that it’s Saturday.

I was so tired this morning that it took me at least 3 minutes to figure out where I was and what day it was. That’s normal, right? But after a couple of cups of tea, I’m feeling more energetic and able to keep up a conversation without struggling, well..sort of.

Is it lunch time, yet? Home time? It’s only Tuesday, right?

Last night, I had a tonne of errands to run, since I was so lazy on Sunday and needed to make something quick. I realized that I had some salmon to clean up so I decided to make baked salmon in a bit of lemon juice with spices and then a veggie stir fry and all over some rice noodles. I was going to make some brown rice, but I dropped the ball and thought of it a bit too late – so noodles it was!

Here’s how to make it:

Ingredients for the salmon

  • 1 Salmon fillet
  • The juice of 1 lemon or ¼ cup of lemon juice
  • ¼ cup of water ¼ tsp of thyme
  • ¼ tsp of chilli flakes ¼ tsp of black pepper
  • ¼ tsp mustard powder

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
  2. Put the salmon fillet in a baking dish and pour the water and lemon juice in the base of the dish.
  3. Sprinkle the spices on top of the fish. Place in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes.

Ingredients for the stir fry:

The beauty of stir fries, is that you can seriously make them with any combination of your favourite veggies and spices. Be careful of sauces as they often contain extra sodium and sugar and preservatives which totally defeats the purpose of making a healthy stir fry in the first place!

  • 1 red bell pepper (chopped into strips)
  • ½ head of steamed broccoli (chopped)
  • ½ peeled and chopped carrot ¼ of an onion (chopped)
  • 1 clove garlic (chopped) 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika 2 tbsp of olive oil 2 tbsp of soy sauce or I recommend Liquid Aminos
  • 1 cup of rice or any rice noodle that you prefer

Method:

  1. Prepare the rice or noodles as directed and steam the broccoli.
  2. While that is cooking, heat the oil in medium or large frying pan (whatever you prefer).
  3. Once the oil has heated, add the black pepper and parika. Stir the spices in with the oil until fragrant. Add the onions and stir until they are soft then add the garlic.
  4. After a few minutes, add the red peppers and stir, then add the carrots and the broccoli (after it has been steamed).
  5. Stir in the soy sauce or liquid aminos and let simmer.
  6. When everything is ready, cut up the salmon and place veggies over the rice and serve.

Serves about 2 people.

Enjoy!