Friday, October 25, 2013

Green Papaya salad - low calorie, no salt, no sugar

I have three papaya trees growing in my backyard. I seeded them last October, and they have done very well, except the fruit is not ripening. We are now approaching the frost season here in Florida, so I wanted to make use of these abundant green papayas. Searching the net for the recipes, I could only yield high sugar or high oil recipes, which I did not want. So, I sort of experimented, and the result came out very good. The salad is juicy, low calorie, low fat, no salt, and delicious. Care to try.

1. Get a green papaya, or two to yield about two pounds. Cut lengthwise and remove the seeds inside.
2. Peel the papaya, then grate the flesh into a large bowl.
3. Get a few carrots - proportion should be about 1 to 4, or 25% carrots to 75% of papaya. Grate the carrots into the same bowl.
4. Get a tablespoon of peanut butter (I used organic, no sugar added) and warm it up in a skillet with a tablespoon of soy sauce (I used liquid aminos). Add that mixture to the graded papaya and carrot and mix well
5. Peel and crush four cloves of garlic and add to the mixture
6. Get some green herbs that you like, parsley, cilantro, or what have you. I did not have any of that, so I chopped some scallions. Add to the mixture.
7. Squeeze a half of a lemon or lime into the salad and mix well.
8. Add four - five drops of liquid stevia, or other sweetener of your choice, to taste.

That's all to it. Here's the result:

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Black Bean Salad

This salad's theme is a lot of greens. As usual, I am an improviser when it comes to cooking. I had black beans and wanted to make a salad, but I also wanted to use the vegetables that grow in my garden. With  a bit of creativity and a dash of spicy dressing the salad was born.

1. You will need:
A half a pound of dry black beans
Green and red peppers
Two or three medium tomatoes
A bunch of parsley (or cilantro), a bunch of scallions, and a bunch of garlic chives (optional)
A can of black pitted olives
Two pickles
And condiments: vegetable oil of your preference, vinegar, salt, black pepper, paprika, red pepper flakes.

2. Soak the beans overnight, drain and rinse, and then cook until done but not mushy. You can also do the quick soak: bring the beans to a boil, then shut the burner and let the beans sit for two hours. Rinse, and then cook until ready.

3. Cool the beans and chop all the ingredients in bite size pieces. Add to the salad bowl. Below is the partial salad with only beans, tomatoes, and parsley.

4. Here's the rest of the ingredients. Chop all the vegetables and greens and add to the bowl.

5. Save the juice from the olives can. Pour the juice into the mixing bowl and add (roughly) a teaspoon of salt, a quarter teaspoon of black pepper, a half a teaspoon of red pepper flakes (if you like it hot. If not, omit the red pepper flakes). Add a half a teaspoon of paprika, then three tablespoons of vinegar and three tablespoons of vegetable oil.

The sauce was my own intuitive creation. But after I tasted it I could feel it lacked something - sweetness. We don't have any sugar or artificial sweeteners in the house, but we do have stevia  extract. So, I added ten drops of stevia, and that just made it.

Here's the stevia I use. It is incredibly economical, because you only need but a few drops to really sweeten the dish or a sauce. And there is no dextrose, or other plastic or wood filler in there. Just plain nature made zero calorie sweetener.

Mix the sauce well and pour over the salad. Mix well and refrigerate for two hours (if you have the will power). Turn the salad once per hour. It does really taste better after being refrigerated and marinated for two hours.

Here's the finished product, black bean salad. It is incredibly tasty. If you want a lighter calorie meal, you can just line up the plate with the greens of your choice, like lettuce or kale, and then pour some of the bean salad on top of the greens.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Okra Stew in Crock Pot

This dish was a spontaneous invention. I wanted to make some sauteed vegetables, but did not want to go to the store. I searched the depths of my freezer and came up with a bag of okra and a bag of green beans. Thus, the dish was born.

You will need:
  • A pound of okra, fresh or frozen, breaded or not breaded
  • A pound of green beans, fresh or frozen
  • A large onion, or two medium ones
  • 6oz carton of musrhooms
  • Quart of crushed tomatoes
  • Salt, chili powder, and garlic powder to taste
Cut beans into 2-3 inch pieces and steam for about 15 minutes, then put into the crock pot.
Chop onions and mushrooms and fry in a good deal of olive oil (or other vegetable oil) until lightly brown, then pour over the green beans in crock pot.
Chop okra into half an inch pieces and fry in good deal of oil until slightly crisp. I had to fry okra in two parts so that the layer of okra was a single layer, that is to prevent okra from slime.  Transfer okra into the crock pot, then add crushed tomatoes, and spices to taste.
Cook on high for one hour, stirring occasionally.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Fried Collards

This is a sort of healthier version of the Southern Fried Collards. This one does not use bacon or a lot of oil. It is not deep-fried, but rather flash-fried where you fry the collards for a very short time on a very hot skillet.

1. Get your collard greens leaves and cut the lower stems. Chop them pretty finely, maybe 1/4 inch in length, and set aside.

2. Roll collard green leaves in tight tubes, like you would roll a cigar (if you embarked on such a journey)

3. Now cut this tube into 2-inch stripes or so. No need to be overly perfect:

4. Put three tablespoons of oil into the skillet. I use olive oil that is suitable for grilling (can withstand hot temperature). Fry the stems first, until you see that they start to brown. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. I also add cayenne, but that's just me. I add cayenne to everything. Place fried stems into a bowl. Next, fry the leaves. You might have to do that in portions, so that the skillet is not overwhelmed. Again, fry just as the leaves start to brown, maybe just a few minutes per portion. 

Finely chop a fresh onion. Add a few drops of lemon juice. Stir. Enjoy warm.

To this particular batch I also added light steamed broccoli. But that's optional. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Kimchi Recipes

Everyone is crazy for the probiotic foods lately, and for a good reason; let's face it - we do not get enough of enzymes in our day to day foods. Fermented foods have a long tradition of helping digestion and immune system, and kimchi is one of these foods. Kimchi Recipes vary from blog to blog and from family tradition to family tradition. The Kimchi recipes that I follow are not as strict as the original Korean kimchi, partly because it is difficult to find authentic ingredients, and partly because it is difficult for an average American to tolerate the spiciness of the traditional Kimchi recipes.

But here's one of the Kimchi recipes that I use regularly, and I dubbed it "Not so hot Kimchi". My family loves it, even the ones who don't like spicy foods or the "spoiled" foods, ha, ha. Well, here it is: Kimchi recipes that everyone loves.

1. Get yourself two heads of Napa cabbage at the store. If they don't have Napa, get a head of regular cabbage  and a bunch of Bok Choy, or worst case scenario, two heads of regular cabbage.

2. Get a pound of carrots, a two inch stick of ginger, a head of garlic, and a jar of dry red pepper flakes. I assume at this point that you have sea salt or kosher salt at home, if not, get that too.

3. Chop cabbage coarsely and put into a large bowl. Sprinkle with about two tablespoons of salt, and squeeze the cabbage shreds with your hands so that cabbage starts giving juice. Let it sit for about twenty minutes, covered with a kitchen towel.

4. In the mean time, chop and shred the remaining ingredients. Sprinkle well with red pepper flakes (to your liking!)

5. Mix all the stuff together and start stuffing a glass or enameled jar with the mixture, pressing with our fist, so that juice is covering the vegetables.

I often add greens, like collard greens, or bok choy, and other vegetables, like squash to the mixture, all is good.

6. Once the jar is full, find something that would hold the vegetables down in this Kimchi recipe, while keeping the juice above them. I use a 750ml wine bottle filled with water. It fits perfectly into this two quart jar.

7. Keep it on the counter for two or three days until you see nice bubbling going on, which would mean that your kimchi is fermenting.

8. At this point put the jar into the fridge and enjoy until it's all gone. Then, make the new batch.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sweet Potato Home Fries

It is a common thought that sweet potatoes should be cooked with sugar, usually as a pie or a bake. But here is a new twist on a sweet potato, a meal that is more spicy and salty than sweet, yet hinting at the sweetness of this beautiful vegetable.

1. Peel sweet potatoes and cut them in half-round slices

2. Peel an onion, grease a frying pan with three to four tablespoons of vegetable oil and turn the burner to five, or medium. Place sweet potatoes and onion into the pan:

3. Cook on medium until done. You will have to add some water mid-way because sweet potatoes absorb liquid pretty good. Turn only a few times, so the dish does not turn mushy. Sprinkle with salt and cayenne while cooking, to taste. I sometimes add paprika as well for flavor.

4. These sweet potatoes make a nice main dish, in addition to some vegetables or salad.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Yougurt dressing (a la Ranch)

Why do we like Ranch dressing so much? It is so creamy and delicious. But really, human taste buds crave fat and salt, that's it. The problem is, majority of prepared dressing in the supermarket contains so many chemicals and corn by-products that it makes it not worth it using it. The only organic, "all natural" dressing I could find in a regular store cost about $4.99 for a small bottle, and still contained corn. So, here we go, venture to create all natural dressing that is rich and satisfying, yet devoid of corn and chemicals.

Get some plain (not the fat-free or low fat) variety of yougurt. In my area the only brand I could find that satisfies that requirement is Dannon. The only ingerdient listed on the back of the package is "cultured milk". That's all you want if you want natural food. There could be though "milk, enzymes". That's OK too, same thing. But nothing else.

Now, get your spices. Salt, garlic powder, cayenne and some dried herbs, like dill weed or parsley flakes. The list is not mandatory, experiment with your spices to find what pleases you. We are not trying to mimic ranch, we are trying to create an alternative natural but tasty dressing.

Whisk it together with a fork, and there you have it. If it is not creamy enough for you, add a teaspoon of sour cream, again all natural and not fat free or low fat.