This month’s Recipe Redux theme couldn’t come at a better time. With temperatures dropping to the teens and snow still on the ground, a nice, hot batch of savory homemade soup is perfect to ward off the bitter chill. The challenge is to use a ‘new’ food trend in a soup or one-dish meal, so after looking at a few lists online, I decided to include a couple ingredients from the 2013 food trends from Bon Appetit and Fox News.

Spice is Nice
Soup is good food, but soup with some red hot chili peppers will warm you up a lot quicker! Adding gochujang, a Korean red chili paste to soups not only turns up the heat but adds a rich and savory flavor thanks to fermented soybeans. Use this paste sparingly in place of tabasco or Sriracha, and you’ll find the flavors of your dishes have taken on a whole new level.

Vegged Out
Kale is one of my favorite veggies for its neutral taste, high nutrition and low calories. From smoothies to soups, add kale to your dishes for extra helpings of fiber, vitamins and minerals (see the quick-reference nutrient chart at The World’s Healthiest Foods.) Serve water-sauteed kale with your bacon and eggs, add a handful to your favorite protein smoothie, or massage it with some salt and serve it as a raw side dish. Any way you serve it up, you’ll benefit from this nutritious powerhouse.

Soup’s On!
I have to admit, this soup changed directions as I was making it, and it was mostly influenced by my recent cravings for Vietnamese pho (rice noodle soup.) Fresh parsley and lime help balance the savory saltiness from the gochujang and a little bit of fish sauce. (My husband says it reminds him of Tom Yum Goong, a spicy Thai soup.)

This soup will take less than 30 minutes from prep time to meal time. If you can’t find the Japanese radish daikon, you can use thinly-sliced jicama, which is fairly neutral-tasting. If you don’t have Napa cabbage use all kale.

Spicy Rice Noodle Soup_1

Vietnamese-Style Rice Noodle Soup with Fish, serves 2
If you like pho or tom yum goong, you’ll enjoy making this quick soup at home.

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon Chinese 5 Spice
¼ teaspoon cinnamon (I used Saigon cinnamon—potent stuff!)
1″ ginger, peeled and sliced
6 ounces white fish cut into chunks
32 oz. chicken broth
2 servings (4 oz.) dry rice noodles (feel free to use either thin rice vermicelli or thicker pad thai noodles)
1 cup sliced daikon
1 ½ cups chopped kale
1 cup chopped Napa cabbage
1/3 – 1/2 bunch fresh parsley, stems and all
2 teaspoons Gochujang (NOTE: use 1 teaspoon if you’re not into spice, more if you are!)
1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as Three Crabs)

Garnish:

Fresh parsley leaves
Fresh tofu, cut into ½” cubes
Lime wedges

Directions:

Over medium heat in a large stock pot, stir sesame oil, 5 spice and ginger, heat for 1 minute. Add  fish, stirring to help cook evenly, about 4-5 minutes. Add half of chicken broth, increase heat and bring to a boil. Add remaining broth and dry rice noodles. Add daikon, kale, Napa cabbage and parsley. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in gochujang and fish sauce, heat for 1 more minute.

Divide soup between two large bowls. Top with thinly sliced onion, parsley, tofu and lime wedge. Serve immediately.

Some of these “new” food trends may already be familiar in your kitchen, but it’s also a good way to learn more about foods you may not have tried before, or even heard of.

Speaking of which, check out what other Reduxers have made with their own food trend choices.

Do you have a favorite trendy (or just popular) food at a restaurant? Have you ever tried making it at home? How’d it turn out?



Recipe ReDux

This month’s Recipe Redux theme is “Beat the summer heat with no-cook meals!” Two weeks of hot and humid weather made it easy to be creative with cold foods, and using fresh, raw ingredients only made it better. I was already planning on making a watermelon soup for this month’s recipe redux. But it needed more than just the refreshing watermelon. I needed it to hit your taste buds in all the right ways, and I think I found just the way to do it.

This cold soup is incredibly refreshing on a hot day. The tartness of lime, the bit of heat from cayenne, and the fresh greens make this a delicious and nutritious soup or on-the-go drink. To serve it up with a color on each side, I used a piece of foil to make a ‘divider’ and poured the chilled soups on either side, then carefully removed the foil. It won’t be a perfect pattern, but have fun with it!

Refreshing and colorful, this Green Watermelon Soup is packed with vitamins and minerals.

Green Watermelon Soup

Watermelon puree:
3 cups chopped watermelon
1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons agave (if your watermelon is super sweet, you may not need any)
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch salt
1 tablespoon vodka (keeps it from getting too icy)

Add everything to blender and combine on low speed. Transfer to shallow bowl. Chill for 1 hour or until slushy with ice forming around the edges.

Green puree:

2 cups kale, baby spinach, or combination of both, loosely packed (note: you could also use wheat grass if you like, just omit/reduce agave)
1/2 cup slushy watermelon puree
1/4  large apple, finely chopped or grated
1/2 lime, membrane removed & chopped
1 teaspoon agave
pinch salt
3 ice cubes, crushed

Add everything to blender, combine on medium speed to crush ice, about 10 seconds, then combine on low for another 20 seconds or well-combined.

Assembly: transfer watermelon slush to a measuring cup and stir to break up icy chunks so you can pour easily. Tear a small sheet of foil to use as a ‘divider’ to be placed in the middle of your soup bowl. Simultaneously pour red and green mixtures into bowl on either side of foil. Enjoy immediately.



Land and sea vegetable soup

This month’s Recipe Redux sponsored by The Professional Palate features the little underdogs of the sea: tiny fishes such as sardines and smelts, as well as sea vegetables, including kelp and seaweed. Initially I made a version of turkey bean burgers on a bed of  rice noodles and wakame, but I wasn’t completely satisfied with how it turned out. It was tasty, but I decided to scrap the whole project and start from scratch. This morning. :)

Here’s one of my favorite soup recipes that I’d normally make as soon as I got back from my evening exercise class. It takes about 30 minutes, and you can let it simmer while you jump in the shower (and your husband watches the stove,) so it’ll be ready when you are. It’s packed with land and sea vegetables, so you get the best of both worlds here. Sea veggies are a good source of minerals including iron, iodine and calcium, and even protein. They’re low in fat and calories, can be eaten dried (nori sprinkled on steamed rice or popcorn,) cooked (with braised vegetables, stews) and in desserts (where agar agar is used as a thickener to make jellys and yokan, a sweet bean dessert.) Check out this website for more information on sea vegetable varieties.

Turkey and Vegetable Seaweed Soup

1 teaspoon oil
1/4 lb. ground turkey
1/4 chopped onion
32 oz. chicken broth
1/4 cup dried wakame, nori, or any seaweed, cut into bite-sized pieces (not the nori used for sushi!)
1 small carrot, chopped
1 cup chopped kale leaves and stems
1 stem celery, chopped
1/2 cup cooked rice or barley
1 tablespoon white miso paste
1 cup hot water

In a medium sized pot, cook turkey in oil until browned, breaking up chunks with wooden spoon. Add onion, sautee 1 minute. Add broth, bring to simmer. Add everything except rice (or barley) and miso paste. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes on low heat.

Add cooked rice or barley, stir and simmer for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Mix miso paste in 1 cup hot water, add to soup and stir well. Serve immediately.

Want to ‘sea’ what other reduxers have been making with the ocean’s bounty? Click on the link below:
http://professionalpalate.squarespace.com/blog/the-recipe-redux-little-fish-cakes.html



I started my first WIAW (What I Ate Wednesday, sponsored by Jenn at Peas and Crayons) last week mentioning I wanted to avoid wheat for a week. I find it better if I do, and if I eat more raw foods in place of cooked foods, I feel an increase in energy, my alertness and overall well-being. I still enjoy having foods that are cooked and sometimes have turkey sandwiches for lunch or eggs for breakfast, but I feel a lot better if I start the day off with something raw (and delicious!)

I get a lot of helpful tips and raw meal ideas from Gabby at The Veggie Nook. She posted this awesome Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Green Smoothie recipe, and talk about delicious! All that creamy, cozy goodness with no added sugar and high in vitamins. I made a few modifications to suit my own tastes, and think it’ll be a new breakfast favorite:

Gabby@VeggieNook’s “Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Smoothie,” arguably the best green oatmeal ever!

This breakfast smoothie was so nice I ate it twice…but the second time around I made sure I had a big glass of water, it’s too thick to have on its own. I could only eat half of it so left the rest in the fridge for later.

A late lunch was a not-so-raw (but still nutritious) veggie-chicken soup with swiss chard, beans, pearl barley, red lentils, carrots, leek, and seasoned with a bit of Spike and a Ras en Hanout seasoning from a delicious Moroccan Chicken Tagine recipe at REMCooks (thanks, Richard!):

Veggie soup is one of my favorites to make, you can throw all kinds of good stuff in it!

Since lunch was late, dinner was even later. I made one of my and my husband’s favorites, Chicken Tikka. To be honest, the only other time I’ve tried Chicken Tikka was at Himalayan Kitchen in Kaimuki on Oahu. They have tasty food, and I do love their fish curry, but this homemade version is better by a long shot:

(L-R): Chicken Tikka, Biriyani. Missing: lentils. :(

The recipe below is modified slightly from the cookbook, Eat, Taste, Heal and serves 2. I must have read this book at least five or six times, cover to cover. Not only does it have delicious, easy-to-follow recipes and amazing photography, but a wonderful introduction to Ayurveda that gives you a good basis for understanding the importance of food as medicine, eating with the seasons, and learning more about overall well-being. (I am still learning about Ayurvedic cooking, so will probably read this book another five or six times!)

Chicken Tikka – serves 2
Allow a few hours to marinate; best if you can prep the night before. There will be more than enough marinade, and you could probably add another chicken breast or sop up all that extra sauce with some fresh baked naan. 

2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
3/4 cups Greek style nonfat yogurt
2 tablespoons clarified butter (ghee)
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons of Chef Johnny’s Korma Powder (recipe in cookbook) or Garam Masala
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons paprika
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons grated ginger
1/4 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine yogurt through mint leaves, mixing thoroughly. Add in cut up chicken breasts, stir to coat well. Marinate in refrigerator for a minimum of 3 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place chicken with yogurt sauce  in a 8″x8″ square pan and cover with foil. Bake in oven for 20 minutes, uncover and bake for an additional 5 minutes or until top starts to brown. Serve with rice or naan.

Have a super Wednesday, everybody, and eat well!

Lemon-spiked yogurt floats on a leafy green so you can scoop a little tangy goodness with each spoonful of creamy avocado-leek soup.

This is my first Recipe Redux challenge and for those of you not familiar with this, it is a once-a-month themed cooking challenge in which you redo a recipe to make it healthier (and hopefully tastier!) This month’s theme is “The First Shoots of Spring.”  I was pretty excited to try and come up with something that would be worthy of the challenge, but it was a lot harder that I expected because 1) I’ve lived my entire life in a tropical climate and didn’t know what ‘spring’ foods were, and 2) the local markets didn’t carry pea shoots, garlic scrapes (?) or ramps (??). Although my findings were limited, there were lots of leeks in the markets, so I decided to brighten up a traditional vichyssoise with easy to find ingredients, and which can be made in less than 20 minutes…how’s THAT for a redux? :)

Vichyssoise is made up of potato, leek, heavy cream, and chicken stock. My stomach is sensitive to dairy so I eliminated the heavy cream, increased the potato, and added a ripe avocado, celery, some water, and fresh lemon zest. The taste remained rich and savory, and to add a new dimension, I topped it off with a dollop of nonfat Greek yogurt (easy on my stomach) with a touch of fresh lemon juice.

Avocados are a great source of fiber and vitamins, including vitamin K (aids in blood clotting,) vitamin E (antioxidant, helps body assimilate vitamin K,) folate (aids in tissue development,) and potassium (helps metabolize carbs and ensures proper function of cells, tissues and organs.) Yogurt contains live bacteria cultures to aid digestion, and the fresh squeeze of lemon juice also helps digestion while providing a bit of vitamin C.

This healthy soup uses fresh ingredients and can be enjoyed warm or cold any time of day. Happy eating!

Potato Leek Avocado Soup
 serves 2
This soup can easily be veganized with vegetable broth and soy yogurt.

1 tablespoon oil
1 cup diced potato
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup diced celery
1 leek, white and light green parts only, sliced thinly
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and chopped
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons nonfat greek yogurt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
salt & pepper to taste
lettuce leaves, minced red onion for garnish (optional)

To clean leeks: cut off dark green portion. Slice leek lengthwise from green part to bulb, but not cutting through bulb. Fan out leaves and rinse well under running water. Slice thinly.

Cook potato and garlic in oil on medium heat about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add celery, leek and 1 cup of chicken broth, simmer low for 5 minutes.

Transfer half of mixture to blender and puree.

Transfer half of mixture to a blender with 1 cup of chicken broth and avocado and puree about 30 seconds or until smooth. Return puree to pan and add remaining 1 cup broth and 1 cup of water. Heat until simmering, about 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Turn off heat, stir in lemon zest. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Divide soup between two bowls. Place 1 lettuce leaf (at least 3″ long, 2″ wide) in center of bowl.  Top with 1 tablespoon of yogurt and sprinkle minced red onion for garnish. Can be served warm or cold.

Lemon-spiked yogurt floats on a leafy green so you can scoop a little tangy goodness with each spoonful of creamy avocado-leek soup.

Need a little extra? Try these little appetizers made of sliced cucumber, fresh Parmesan and  raw beets topped with thin slices of leeks. Lots of fresh flavors, sweet and salty combined with crunchy and creamy…this little appetizer has it all!

Easy peasy leeky appetizers!