Archive | October 2016

Thai Curry Noodle Soup

curry-noodle-soup

This month’s recipe is a classic Thai curry soup that is very quick and easy to prepare. I have been a big fan of Thai food since my teens, but my true love affair with it commenced during my travels in Southeast Asia a few years ago.  After sampling as many different dishes as possible while touring that section of the continent, I have spent many days and nights trying to recreate authentic versions of all of my favorites. I have had mixed luck competing with the authenticity of the pros in Thailand, but this red curry soup comes pretty close to one you might find on the street in Bangkok.

This recipe makes for a very satiating meal that provides numerous health benefits. The herbs and spices, along with the onion, garlic and ginger provide an abundance of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxifying elements to the dish. While coconut oil and coconut milk have gotten a bad rap in the past for their high amount of saturated fats, recent studies have shown them both to actually lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good cholesterol), while reducing arterial damage and providing minerals such as manganese, phosphorus and magnesium.  Using light coconut milk in this recipe helps to cut back on the total calories and fat in the dish.

This curry soup can be prepared in well under an hour even with the lengthy prep work involved. However, when time is on your side, more flavor will develop the longer it sits at low heat. There is always room for any additional vegetables, such as the optional mushrooms and kale, and you won’t go wrong adding in another protein such as chicken or shrimp. The recipe makes about 8-12 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 4 cups vegetable stock or broth
  • 3 cups light coconut milk
  • 2 cups kale, chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup button or cremini mushrooms, sliced (optional)
  • 1 pound extra-firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 package thin rice noodles
  • 1-2 limes cut up into wedges
  • fresh cilantro
  • sliced scallions
  • fresh basil
  • bean sprouts
  • thinly sliced fresh red chili peppers (optional)
  • thinly sliced bell pepper (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Heat a large stockpot to medium-high heat. Sauté the onion in the coconut oil for 1-2 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and red curry paste and stir continuously for another 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the vegetable stock or broth and stir thoroughly, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Add the coconut milk and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Add any desired (optional) vegetables of your choice at this point, such as mushrooms and/or kale.
  4. Add the tofu at the last 2 minutes of cooking to heat through.
  5. Taste the broth and season to preference with kosher salt and/or a dash of soy sauce or fish sauce if needed.
  6. You can either cook the noodles according to the package directions and cool them by running under cold water, or you can break a chunk off and put them in a bowl dry and ladle the hot soup over top and allow to sit for a couple of minutes until they soften.
  7. Squeeze a couple of wedges of lime into the soup bowl and garnish with the rest of the desired ingredients.

Nutrition Facts:

Calories: 235 / Fat: 11g / Saturated Fat: 5g / Carbohydrates: 26g / Fiber: 4g / Protein: 11g

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. 

Rigatoni with Pesto and Roasted Vegetables

rigatoni-with-pesto

Today, in our country, very few people eat the right amount of vegetables each day. Even for the most health-conscious person, eating the recommended minimum of 3-4 cups a day can be a great challenge. That challenge can become even more perplexing for those in the category of vegetable hater.

In my opinion, the best way to cook vegetables is by roasting them. It has often been my secret (and only) weapon in swaying those that are passionately dedicated to vegetable abstinence. When vegetables are roasted, they become crisp and caramelized with their sweetness concentrated. People who have often been repulsed by certain vegetables their whole life can find themselves not only tolerating them, but also truly enjoying them for the first time.

This month’s recipe covers all the bases. It’s light, filling, easy to prepare, nutritious, and delicious. The recipe can go a long way, feeding numerous people at multiple meal times. To move this dish down a couple of notches on the glycemic index, simply cut back on the pasta. I find that a little goes a long way. The big pieces of pasta can be a nice filler to a large serving of roasted vegetables, rather than being the calorie-dense focus of the dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 red onion, diced large
  • 1 small eggplant, diced large
  • 1 large zucchini, diced large
  • 1 yellow squash, diced large
  • 1 red pepper, diced large
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound whole wheat Rigatoni
  • 1 cup pesto
  • 2 cups spinach or arugula

Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Pesto Preparation:

  1. Combine the basil in with the pine nuts and pulse a few times in a food processor.
  2. Add the garlic and pulse a few more times.
  3. Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Makes 1 cup

Note: Spinach and arugula both work well either in addition to, or in place of, the basil. It is also a great way to slip some extra nutrients into your pesto. Just make sure to adjust the rest of the ingredients depending on how much you add.

Vegetable Preparation:

  1. If preparing pesto from scratch using the above recipe, do so ahead of time to cut down on total prep time. It can be done up to 3 days in advance.
  2. Preheat oven to 425-degrees
  3. Take the first 11 ingredients (down to the black pepper) and toss thoroughly in a bowl. Spray a large sheet pan or other baking sheet with non-stick spray. Spread vegetables out evenly on the pan, use two pans if necessary.
  4. Put into the 425-degree oven and roast for about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Stir, rotate pan and continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown (Note: Cooking times vary depending on the oven and the size of the vegetables. It is important to watch closely).
  6. Meanwhile, boil pasta according to package directions. Strain, and return to the pot (off the heat) with a little bit of olive oil to prevent sticking.
  7. Stir in pesto, spinach/arugula, and roasted vegetables. Season with salt and pepper if needed and garnish with Parmesan cheese and herbs such as chopped parsley or basil.

The recipe serves 12.

Nutrition Facts:

Calories: 253 / Fat: 9g / Saturated Fat: 2g / Carbohydrates: 36g / Fiber: 6g / Protein: 7g

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.