Archive | July 2016

Vegetarian Pho (Vietnamese Noodle Soup

Pho

Nearly every country has at least one national dish recognized worldwide. Just as Thailand has pad thai, India is known for curry, and Spain is renowned for its paella, Vietnam has pho noodle soup. Traditional pho is a popular street food consisting of a meat-based broth cooked for hours or even days. This vegetarian version can be prepared at home in under an hour. The ingredients can be as extensive or as simplified as desired. Most recipes call for whole cloves and star anise in the broth, however, I find it unnecessary to purchase a whole jar of each just to prepare this variety.

This recipe is light but filling, and offers an assortment of nutritional benefits. It is low in calories and fat, and the herbs and spices give the soup many cleansing and detoxifying properties. There is room to add any desired vegetables to increase the nutrient density, and the flavor can be tweaked to be either subtle or bursting with the spice and heat of your preference. The recipe serves 8.

Ingredients:

Broth:

  • 8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 large onion, diced large into about 8 chunks
  • 1 medium stick fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into coins
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 whole cloves (optional)
  • 3 star anise (optional)
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 bunch of basil stems (reserve leaves for pho)
  • 1 bunch of cilantro stems (reserve leaves for pho)

Pho:

  • 1 package rice noodles
  • 1 8oz package baked tofu
  • cilantro
  • basil
  • sliced green onions
  • bean sprouts
  • shredded carrot
  • lightly sautéed or roasted mushrooms, sliced
  • lightly sautéed or roasted bok choy
  • thinly sliced hot peppers, such as Thai chili
  • crushed peanuts
  • lime wedges
  • fish sauce, dash
  • soy sauce, dash
  • hot sauce, dash

Preparation:

  1. Combine all of the broth ingredients in a large pot, bring to a boil at high heat, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about 30-45 minutes. Strain broth, return to the pot, cover and keep hot at low heat. Discard solids.
  2. Meanwhile, start prepping your pho ingredients. Any combination of the above ingredients may be used and anything else desired may be added.
  3. Cook noodles according to package directions. Run under cold water to keep from overcooking.
  4. If using raw tofu, mushrooms or bok choy, I find it best to make a quick stir-fry or roast them before adding to the soup. If stir-frying, heat a large pan or wok until hot, add a tablespoon of oil (coconut is recommended for stir-frying) and add ingredients to be sautéed. Season with a bit of salt and pepper or soy sauce. If roasting, toss all ingredients in olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread out on a roasting or sheet pan (greased or sprayed) and roast for about 7-8 minutes at 400 degrees.
  5. Ladle about 1-2 cups of broth into a bowl. Add noodles and any other desired ingredients. Season to perfection.

Nutrition Facts:

Calories: 220 / Fat: 5g / Saturated Fat: 1g / Carbohydrates: 35g / Fiber: 5g / Protein: 8g

Brandon McDearis is the owner of Your Way Cuisine, www.yourwaycuisine.com, a personal chef and nutrition consulting business. He is also a professional wanderer that spends much of his year trotting the globe and working in places such as Alaska, Australia, and Antarctica. 

Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Beet Salad

Recreating restaurant meals can be a challenge for anyone, even the seasoned cook. However salads, such as this one with beets and goat cheese, are a good place to start when trying to compete with the pros in imitating items on an upscale menu. Anyone can prepare this salad; even the greenest of cooks. Its flavor and visual appeal is guaranteed to impress those served.

Just the short list of ingredients in this recipe offers a contrast of intricate flavors, while also providing copious nutritional benefits. Beets and greens are two of the world’s healthiest foods that thankfully pair well together. The tender roasted beets get enhanced with the tanginess of the goat cheese and the sweetness of the balsamic vinaigrette. This recipe is a great side salad, but it can easily be turned into a full meal with the addition of some hearty ingredients such as nuts, beans, or avocado. For added color, I like to do a mix of red and yellow beets. This salad serves 6.

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium fresh beets
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 5-8 ounces spring mix or arugula
  • 2 carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • ¼ cup (2oz) goat cheese

Dressing

  • ½ shallot finely chopped
  • 1 small clove garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preparation:

  1. Thoroughly wash the beets then separate them from their leaves. Discard the stems and leaves (the leaves can be saved and eaten).
  2. Toss the beets with the 3 tbsp. of salt and then put them in a pan and into a 375-degree oven.
  3. Check them after 30 minutes by piercing one with a pairing knife. If they do not feel soft enough for the knife to easily penetrate to the middle of the beet, put them back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes. Note: A very large beet can take over an hour to cook while a small one can be done in 20-30 minutes. The size of your beets will determine your cook time.
  4. Remove the beets from the oven and let them cool for 15 minutes. Once they are cool enough to handle, then peel the skin off with a knife and slice them into 4-6 pieces (again, depending on the size of the beet). Cool completely in the refrigerator.
  5. Prep the rest of the salad while the beets are cooling off and layer in a large bowl. Sprinkle with goat cheese and top with the roasted & cooled beets.
  6. Drizzle with dressing after serving.

Nutrition Facts:

Calories: 147 / Fat: 7g / Saturated Fat: 3g / Carbohydrates: 9g / Fiber: 3g / Protein: 3g

Brandon McDearis is the owner of Your Way Cuisine, www.yourwaycuisine.com, a personal chef and nutrition consulting business. He is also a professional wanderer that spends much of his year trotting the globe and working in places such as Alaska, Australia, and Antarctica.

Soft-Serve Ice Cream

Soft Serve Ice Cream

I was recently reading Dr. Michael Greger’s book How Not to Die, a hardcover written by the founder of nutritionfacts.org that discusses many of the foods that have been scientifically proven to prevent and reverse disease. The book is very informative, while also being an interesting read for those who are curious about a plant-based diet. While I learned an abundance of scientific facts from Dr. Greger’s latest book, most of his culinary advice simply helped reiterate what I have often practiced in my own cooking, both personally and professionally. However, the beauty of a career in foods and nutrition is that you are constantly learning, and even the most seasoned expert will never come close to knowing it all.

In one of the chapters on the antioxidant power of frozen berries Dr. Greger explains how he makes his favorite dessert, soft-serve ice cream, by simply blending fruit in a blender. While I have made ice cream many times in my life in an ice cream maker with plenty of cream and eggs, this simplified and healthier version was completely new to me. After trying it, I was pleasantly surprised how delicious it turned out to be.

One of Dr. Greger’s simplest recipes is just blending up frozen, very ripe (the riper/browner the better) bananas. The banana puree is great by itself, but I have found it to be a great base for other ice creams. There are really no rules to the recipes. It is a matter of playing and having a bit of fun making ice cream to your preference. I found that adding a bit of almond milk one splash at a time helps to get the mixture going while putting less stress on the blender. A squirt of honey and vanilla extract, a drop of coconut oil or a tablespoon of almond butter can easily enhance the flavor of a tart berry. The nutrition can always be enhanced a bit with some chia seeds, a handful of nuts or a scoop of protein powder. If you drop a bit too much liquid into the blender and end up with a milkshake, so be it. Grab a straw and enjoy!

This recipe is for a chocolate berry-banana ice cream taken from the book, but I tweaked it a bit; any ingredients can be omitted and/or replaced quite easily. I do recommend having a pretty strong blender or adding enough liquid, as a cheap blender will burn out quickly with dry ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe frozen banana, sliced in to 3 or 4 chunks
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 capful vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey (optional)
  • handful pitted dates (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Pulse all ingredients together in a blender until smooth. If you have trouble blending everything thoroughly, add more almond milk. If it is too thin and you do not want a milkshake then add more fruit.

The recipe makes about 2 servings.

Nutrition Facts:

Calories: 150 / Fat: 6g / Saturated Fat: 2g /Carbohydrates: 24g / Fiber: 5g / Protein 4g

Brandon McDearis is the owner of Your Way Cuisine, www.yourwaycuisine.com, a personal chef and nutrition consulting business. He is also a professional wanderer that spends much of his year trotting the globe and working in places such as Alaska, Australia, and Antarctica.