Zoodles

Zoodles2Is it a poodle? Is it a noodle? It’s zucchini noodles!!!!! Or as many like to call them the famous zoodles—perfect for low carb or Paleolithic diets. These surprisingly tasty substitutes for noodles are quicker to cook and full of beneficial nutritional treats. From boring and bland to pizzazz and pop, zoodles add both flavor and color to any dish.

Zucchini provides only 17 calories per 100 g. It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. The peel is good source of dietary fiber that helps reduce constipation and offers some protection against colon cancers. Zucchinis can be available all around the year, but they are at their best during late spring and summer seasons. In the stores, choose small to medium-sized zucchini featuring shiny, bright green skin, firm and heavy in hand. The best size for zucchini is 6 to 8 inches length and 2 inches or less in diameter. Some big sized varieties with marrow are specially grown for stuffing. Minor superficial scratches and mild bruises oftentimes seen on their surface are perfectly fine. Avoid overly mature, large zucchini with pitted skin, and those with flabby or spongy textured. Furthermore, avoid those with soft and wrinkled ends as they indicate old stock.

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Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

  1. For this recipe, use fresher zucchini. Zucchini that has been sitting around becomes too watery and is hard to spiral/peel.
  2. You can use different tools to create zoodles: a sprialer or a ribbed peeler. I used a ribbed peeler.
  3. You can peel the skin off the zucchini, but my preference is to keep it on. It creates a nice contrasting light and dark green of color to the dish.
  4. Sauté the zucchini in a heated pan of olive oil or coconut oil. Start out with less oil than you think you’ll need because you can always add more in.
  5. Toss the zucchini a couple of times while cooking to keep it from burning and cooking through evenly.

ZoodlesZoodles trending popularity comes with the new wave of low carb dietary restrictions and healthier substitutions. Unlike heavy pastas, zoodles offer a low calorie, zero carb vegetable to your plate. Cooked properly, the zucchini turns a vibrant green that makes my heart melt and my mouth water. I love using fresh zucchini from the farmers market because the zucchini tends to be in better form. Whatever your reason, zoodles are a great way to enjoy vegetables and mix up your diet.

Leave a comment with your favorite zoodle addition: meat, sauce, pesto or more the options are endless. Follow my Pinterest for more recipes to try. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

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Sushi Trifle

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Deconstructed sushi! I love enjoying sushi at restaurants; however, rolling sushi can be time consuming and takes technique. The sushi trifle satisfies taste without the inconvenience of rolling. It can be plated to impress or mixed for ultimate enjoyment. Mix and match various flavors and ingredients to match sushi at
famous restaurants.

Sushi is a $14 billion industry in Japan. There are types of sushi to fit every taste–vegetables, raw fish, cooked fish and meat are common ingredients. The original type of sushi, known today as nare-zushi, was first made in Southeast Asia, possibly along what is now known as the Mekong River. The term sushi comes from an archaic grammatical form no longer used in other contexts. Literally, sushi means “sour-tasting”, a reflection of its historic fermented roots. The oldest form of sushi in Japan, narezushi, still very closely resembles this process, wherein fish is fermented via being wrapped in soured fermenting rice. The fish proteins break down via fermentation into their constituent amino acids. The fermenting rice and fish results in a sour taste and one of the five basic tastes, called umami in Japanese.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I replaced the sushi rice with white rice. Brown and sticky rice work as replacements.
  2. The crumbled nori provides the full sushi roll flavor. It is salty and tastes best when slightly softened.
  3. I nixed the wasabi sauce because I prefer my food non-spicy.
  4. You can stack the ingredients in any fashion. For formal meals and fancy plating, use a clear wine glass and stack the ingredients in layers as seen.
  5. In the future, I suggest mixing the ingredients in a bowl to have all the flavors in
    each bite.
  6. Be sure to cook the salmon unless the sushi deconstruction is calling for raw meat. Be advised as to meats that can be eaten raw and those that need to be cooked.

Sushi has a long history throughout Asia. Methods have changed and contemporized allowing for variety and maximum flavor. While tackling sushi rolls may be challenging, sushi trifles complete flavor and ease. Mix and match favorite sushi rolls to triumph.

Leave a comment with your favorite Asian dishes. Follow my Pinterest. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Curried Quinoa Stew

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Quinoa is thriving in the new year. People, like myself, are enjoying the seed that offers vast amount of protein per carbohydrate. It can run close in comparison to the textures of couscous or pearl barley and works as a gluten free, nutritional powerhouse. The addition of quinoa to stews works perfectly because the seed grows and cooks in a liquid base. So, jumping on the quinoa bandwagon, the curried quinoa stew delivers on all notes.

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Curry, is the generic English term primarily employed in Western culture to denote a wide variety of dishes whose origins are Southern and Southeastern Asian cuisines, as well as New World cuisines influenced by them such as Trinidadian, Mauritian or Fijian. In originaltraditional cuisines, the precise selection of spices for each dish is a matter of national or regional cultural tradition, religious practice and, to some extent, family preference. Curry powder, a commercially prepared mixture of spices, is largely a Western notion, dating to the 18th century. Such mixtures are commonly thought to have first been prepared by Indian merchants for sale to members of the British Colonial government and army returning to Britain. Curries may be either wet or dry. Wet curries contain significant amounts of sauce or gravy based on yogurt, coconut milk, legume purée (dal) or stock. Dry curries are cooked with very little liquid that is allowed to evaporate, leaving the other ingredients coated with the spice mixture. The main spices found in most South Asian curry powders are turmeric, coriander and cumin; a wide range of additional spices may be included depending on the geographic region.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. I used baby carrots in place of chopping a large carrot.
  2. Using fresh ginger is essential in curry related meals. It adds depth and a more authentic taste to the dish.
  3. I made my own curry powder. It is an equal mixture of turmeric, ground cumin, coriander and cayenne (optional).
  4. I used tomato sauce. I do not care for tomatoes and the sauce thickens the stew without leaving chunks.
  5. You can use vegetable broth for a vegetarian dish.
  6. I used white kidney beans in place of black beans. It was by random chance that I mixed the two cans up; however, I feel the kidney beans work better to balance the dish whereas black beans would overpower the flavors.
  7. The nut buttes add a depth of flavor to the dish and a creaminess to the soup. Also, it provides a hint of the end color.
  8. I nixed the cilantro because I do not care for the minty Mexican spice.
  9. Use a fair amount of spinach because it will wilt in the stew. Tearing it can be essential in dispersing the spinach evenly without spinach balls.
  10. I liked to cook my dish in my dutch oven. It works equally to a large pot, but the spices and flavors of curry will sink into the soul of your dutch oven: YUM!
  11. After adding the quinoa, stir the dish occasionally to keep it from burning. You will begin to notice that the stew becomes thicker as the quinoa absorbs the liquid while
    being tossed.
  12. Similar to the quinoa chili I have created in the past, you could substitute the carrots with sweet potatoes. Keep in mind that your nutritional information would then change as well since carrots are low in calories.

I have a knack for enjoying Indian dishes. Curry’s potent flavors and aroma are one of my favorite spices to work with. It can transform dishes into wonderful meals. I enjoy that curries and Indian dishes incorporate a vast amount of spices: meaning I can obtain flavor without calories. From the nuttiness of the peanut butter to the protein of the quinoa, my stomach was dancing after enjoying the meal. Eaten on a cold winter night or for an Indian flared party, the dish will wow friends and family alike.

Leave a comment with your favorite Indian recipes. Follow my Pinterest for more recipes. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Paprika Spiced Vegetables

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My favorite items to buy at the famer’s market are the colorful carrots.  They come in purple; they come in white; they come in orange.  Each color has a different flavor; mixed together they create a vibrant side dish.  The purple carrots happen to be my favorite providing sweetness; the white carrots taste closer to parsnips; the orange carrots have an earthy taste to them.  Peeled, sliced, seasoned and cooked, the carrots are one of my favorite side dishes with a low-calorie, nutritious benefit.

Carrots are plentiful in various vitamins.  One medium carrot contains 204% of your daily recommended value of vitamin A.  They are a good source of vitamins K and C.  Vitamin K maintains your blood’s ability to clot and contributes to bone and kidney strength.  Vitamin C is associated with a healthy immune system and strong gums.  It helps your body absorb iron.  Among those valuable reasons to eat carrots, carrots provide you with 7% of the daily recommended value.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I cook my carrots for about 40 minutes flipping them halfway through at 350 F.  If you are in a rush, you can use aluminum foil and cook the carrots in about 25-30 minutes.
  2. Spray pam on a baking sheet to keep the carrots from sticking.
  3. I spray my carrots with pam before seasoning them to allow the spices to adhere.
  4. Be sure to peel the carrots and cut them in even pieces.
  5. Space the carrots evenly along the tray and sprinkle them with paprika.
  6. You can add other root vegetables to the mix just be sure to adjust cooking times, and keep the other vegetables around the same size.

paprikaspicedveggies3These paprika spiced vegetables won’t stay on the table for long.  Spices are a great way to mask the taste of vegetables and provide them with flavor.  It mixes up the monotony of the daily vegetables.  Check your local farmer’s market or grocery store for your favorite vegetable and try a hand with your own spice mixture.

Leave a comment with your favorite farmer’s market finds.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes.  Be sure to check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Rosemary Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Apples

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I love Brussels sprouts.  They can be eaten a various ways making them a great mix in salads and other dishes like rosemary roasted Brussels sprouts and apples.  The added nutrients of hemp seeds create a protein bonus–great for vegetarians and vegans.  While hemp seeds and Brussels sprouts have a bad reputation, the mix created here can help change those horrible statuses.  They provide a satisfying delight that will leave you full of green love.

Brussels sprouts are a great vegetable to add to your diet.  Like all green vegetables, you can eat as many as you’d like.  The Brussels sprout is a cruciferous vegetable related to the cabbage.  Removing the outer leaves reveals a compact, leafy vegetable that provides beneficial nutrients in each sweet and nutty layer.  Sauté Brussels sprouts to caramelize and enhance the sweet side or steam for a more direct approach.  Veggies may not top your list of protein foods, but a 3.5-oz. serving of Brussels sprouts provides 3.4 g of protein or 7 percent of the Institute of Medicine’s minimum daily recommendation for women.  Protein is important for rebuilding damaged skin tissue and producing enzymes that transform food to energy.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. The recipe makes about 8-10 servings; ergo, I suggest halving the recipe.
  2. Fugi apples should be used because they are tart and sweet.
  3. I used twice the amount of olive oil.  Make sure to coat the apples and Brussels sprouts; the olive oil helps them brown and cook.
  4. Hemp seeds are a great crunch to the dish.
  5. It took about 35-40 minutes to brown the Brussels sprouts.  I suggest browning them 25 minutes before adding the hemp seeds to prevent burning.
  6. Be sure to flip the sprouts and apples halfway through.
  7. I like to cook my Brussels sprouts a little longer to rid them of their natural
    cabbage flavor.
  8. If you are conscious of the amount of oil you use, like myself, I suggest spraying the Brussels sprouts with pam in place of olive oil.

rosemaryroastedbrussles&applesHemp seeds come from a plant that is similar to the marijuana plant, but has lower levels of psychoactive cannabinoid compounds.  Hemp seed extract has an unidentified compound in it that may help to promote learning, memory and immune function.  It may stimulate the brain enzyme known as calcineurin, according to the University of Michigan.  Calcineurin plays an essential role in some brain synapse activities.  Hemp seeds are rich in essential fatty acids.  The oil in the seeds is a source of the omega-3 fatty acid.  Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation in your body.  They also may lower risk for cancer, heart disease and arthritis.  Hemp seeds can help you if you are constipated because they act as a
bulk-forming laxative.

I love the crunch that the hemp seeds provide; I love the sweet tartness of the Fugi apples; I love the depth of flavor all the herbs create.  All in all this recipe will convert anyone into becoming a Brussels sprout lover.  This dish works well as an introductory dish to young children and adults alike to expand their palates with nutritious vegetables.

Leave a comment with your favorite side dishes.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Broccolini Chicken Pizza

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It was not until recently that I became obsessed with adding greens onto my pizza. I grew up with pizza consisting of cheese, pepperoni and sauce–no deterring from the norm. However, greens add a nutritional note to your dishes without unnecessary calories and pair well with a variety of ingredients. For instance, broccolini chicken pizza is a sweet and savory combination. The sweet, citrus ricotta paired with the vibrant greens and mouthwatering chicken brings heavenly flavors to my tummy. The recipe shows me that greens and creativity bring delicious meals to the table.

Broccolini is a green vegetable similar to broccoli but with smaller florets and longer, thinner stalks. It is a hybrid of broccoli and kai-lan, Chinese broccoli, developed by the Sakata Seed Company of Yokohama, Japan. Broccolini is also known as asparation, asparations, bimi, broccoletti, broccolette and tenderstem. The entire vegetable is consumable, including theoccasional yellow flower. Common cooking methods include sauteeing, steaming, boiling and stir-frying. Its flavor is sweet, with notes of both broccoli and asparagus, although it is not closely related to the latter. Nutritionally, it is high in vitamin C and contains vitamin A, calcium and iron.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I used broccolini. It is one of my favorite vegetables, but it can be hard to find in grocery stores. Take advantage while you can!
  2. I nixed the lemon zest because I had bottled lemon juice only. The zest helps the acidity and adds a fresh note to the pizza.
  3. I used a pre-made crust and adjusted the cooking times; however, soon after I found out that Trader Joe’s has whole-wheat pizza dough. (Shout out to Charlie Mai for letting me know it existed!)brocollinipizza2
  4. I suggest nixing the oil in half. I felt the oiled pizza crust made it soggy and was unnecessary fat in your diet. Save those calories for something you really want–like dessert…heehee.
  5. Ricotta is thick and grainy. Mixing it with lemon juice helps soften the cheese, and it becomes similar in texture to pesto.
  6. I cleaned my chicken breast of the fatty deposits and chopped them evenly. You need the pieces small enough to cook through without overcooking your broccolini.
  7. Pile the toppings onto the crust; I had enough topping to make two pizzas.
  8. Baking the pizza with the toppings facilitates the process of creating an adhesion between ingredients and melting the ricotta.
  9. I suggest cooking the chicken until just about done on the stovetop. This method will allow the chicken to continue cooking while preparing the pizza and again in the oven without overcooking it creating a dry, juiceless texture.

The topping alone contains vast amounts of flavor. Adding those flavors to the top of a delicious bread and we have a winner. The pizza adds a variety to your daily routine. You can still enjoy the normalcy of pizza with a twist. Incorporating broccolini onto circular bread is a great way to trick little ones, or yourself, into eating their greens.

Leave a comment with your favorite pizza recipes. Follow my Pinterest for more recipes. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Cauliflower Mash with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon

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A daily diet should consist of 2-3 servings of vegetables.  This cauliflower mash with brussels sprouts and bacon helps achieve that goal.  Because cauliflower is so versatile in texture and flavor, it works well as any base.  Cauliflower can substitute rice, pizza crust and now mashed potatoes while still maintaining complex flavors.  It allows for you to enjoy all those starchy meals with a healthier alternative.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. This recipe makes two appropriate portion sizes, so if you’re someone who is making this for a large meal you’ll need to double or triple it.
  2. Take as much of the stem off the cauliflower as possible.
  3. I placed my cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl to microwave for 6 minutes instead of cooking it stovetop.
  4. I used turkey bacon because it still has the flavor without all the sodium and
    saturated fats.
  5. The bacon can be cooked in about 4 minutes stovetop.cauliflowerbrusslesprouts2
  6. Food process the cooked cauliflower to a
    puree consistency.
  7. Adding olive oil to the cauliflower creates flavor and a smoother consistency.
  8. The puree should mock the look of
    mashed potatoes.
  9. The nutmeg adds a depth of flavor to the dish.
  10. I cooked the brussels sprouts in the oven because I think they crisp better. Cook them with some pam for about 40 minutes flipping halfway through.
  11. I nixed the chickpeas because it is already a carb heavy meal; luckily, your carbohydrates are coming from vegetables.
  12. Use tofurky for vegan and vegetarian options.

Vegetarians and food fanatics alike will dive into this dish.  The combinations of ingredients all compliment one another creating a deep, palate profile.  It’s a quick and easy way to enjoy vegetables; it’s a quick and easy way to enjoy a meal without bursting your waistline; it’s a quick and easy way to enjoy a burst of delectable flavors.

Leave a comment with your favorite cauliflower recipes.  Follow my Pinterest.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and trick from The Cooking Bug.