Friday, April 30, 2010

Curried Yellow Split Pea Soup

Split pea soup is a natural for curry spice blend.  Peas and all legumes are low in fat, cholesterol free,  high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium and an excellent source of protein and fiber.
The turmeric in the curry has medicinal qualities, most recently shown to fight Alzheimer's disease.

Start with 2 TB curry powder gently cooked in a little clarified butter (ghee) or olive oil, add the onions and cook on low until onions are translucent, about 10minutes, garlic may be added at this point, but don't let it brown or the soup will be bitter. You may wish to spice up your curry spice powder with a little extra ground fennel seed, cumin, ginger, nutmeg or cinnamon.  Curry powder is a blend of spices and can be, and is really best made  fresh by the cook....but the store bought is wonderfully convenient, and is easily embellished. Add 6 cups vegetable broth or water, and peas to the sauteed onions and simmer for approximately 45 minutes. Half way through the cooking add chopped celery and half of the shredded carrots. More curry powder may be added to taste while the peas are simmering. The remaining shredded carrots are added during the last 2 or 3 minutes of cooking. Chopped flat leaf parsely is added after the soup has been removed from the heat, this will help keep its bright green color. Finely chopped kale can be used in place of the parley, but should be added 7-10 minutes before end of cooking.

Pictured here is a yellow spit pea, their color works better with the color of the yellow (turmeric) curry. Split peas love carrots, 6 have been shredded and will be added throughout the cooking process for a variety of textures. The finished soup is topped with fresh yogurt and a generous squeeze of lemon.

Curry powder is available in the spice section of the supermarket, avoid the Spice Islands Brand, try a few, and for the real curry powder lovers shop online, locals head over to Artesia's little India and stock up on an amazing variety of incredible garam masalas. 

Monday, April 26, 2010

Nina Planck on 'Real Food"

Author and food activist Nina Planck was raised on a family farm in Virginia, where she learned to appreciate "real," traditional foods. 

"...It’s about the traditional foods versus the industrial foods and therein lies the tale I put in real food because when I started to eat all these foods I wondered will I feel great and I’m thriving, but perhaps the nutritionists and the cardiologists are right and soon my arteries will be clogged like a drain and I’ll be dead at 32. So I wanted to do some homework on real food.  So I set out to find out whether it was true.  Is it true that these traditional foods, these meats and these fats are responsible for what they call the "diseases of civilization" – and those are generally the three diet-related diseases that are crippling Americans right now – and they are obesity, diabetes and heart disease.  They’re known as the "diseases of civilization," but I came to find that that was a misnomer.  They are truly the diseases on industrialization because the ancient Greeks and others were certainly civilized and they did not suffer from these diseases.  We began to suffer from these three diseases around the time we started to convert traditional foods into industrial foods, so one-by-one I looked at each food and once again I found that wherever you come from, whatever part of the world, whether it’s the tropics where coconut oil is the norm, or its northern climes where you’re eating a lot of reindeer meat or seal blubber, or it’s the Scottish Islands where you have hardly any access to fruits and vegetables – wherever you look at traditional diets you find a little list of traditional and what I came to call real foods and you do not find the diseases of industrialization.  All the foods are good, but I did look at each food and we can talk about them.  I looked at saturated fat in particular.  I looked at cholesterol in particular.  I looked at red meat, which is accused of causing cancer. And then I looked at the substitutes for these traditional foods that we’ve now added to our diet: the industrial foods, soybean oil, corn oil, refined flour, refined sugar, trans-fats, which are artificial man-made saturated fats and in each instance I found that these industrial foods were responsible for obesity, diabetes and heart disease. And other conditions too, but these are the three that people are most concerned with..."

twitter: @ninaplanck

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bar Hayama Sushi

Sushi chefs at  Toshi Sugiura's Bar Hayama on Sawtelle are fun and friendly, this is a sushi bar you can easily go to alone for a few pieces of sushi or kosara (little plates at the sake bar, ) or for a full blown feast with friends in the fancier dining room. Hayama sushi is exceptional and inventive, and its traditional to ultra creative fusion style Japanese dishes make for a memorable dining experience. Outside fire pit dining and roof top fire pit are available as well as elegant seating inside, and for toddy lovers,  one sake bar as well as a full bar in the dining area. 
Hayama is most delicious for lunch or early dinner 
of kosara when it is less crowded, and
with better service and guaranteed flawless sushi.

Chilled duck breast

                                                 Mochi, perfect mini ice cream bites
Yelp reviews

Bar Hayama
310 235 2000
1803 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025
1803  must be lucky number for sushi, it was once the home of Sasabune, now on Wilshire

Friday, April 23, 2010

Shrimp and Scallop Fajitas

Technically any 'fajita' dish not containing beef, specifically skirt steak, would more appropriately be called a stir fry. Fajita means skirt steak, but has come to mean any meat or seafood quickly sauteed, or grilled, and rolled in a tortilla. 
Ultra easy and very healthy, fajitas are authentic Mexican fare. No deep frying and no mountain of melted cheese, just fresh, assorted peppers, onions, and marinated seafood, meat or tofu quickly sauteed, or grilled  at high heat in an iron skillet with a splash of olive oil.
 Served with warm corn tortillas, black beans, avocado, and fresh salsa...what could be easier?
Above is shrimp and scallop fajita/stir fry with red and green peppers, passilla chili, Anaheim chili, Spanish onion, and fresh cilantro.  Marinade for seafood is a simple blend of 2 limes, shown above with juice of 3 key limes and 2 tangerines,  2 tsp ground cumin, 2 minced jalapeno, 1/2 minced serrano,  1/4 cp chopped cilantro, 1 TB fresh mexican oregano, pinch of sea salt. Seafood only needs 10 minutes in marinade before cooking. Beef fajita marinades are best with skirt steak and a 12-24 hour marinade.

An excellent dish, and cooking technique for good health and perfect weight

Friday, April 16, 2010

Herb Roasted Japanese Eggplant, Fennel, and Carrot

Vegetables love to be roasted!
All that fabulously fresh farmers market produce can be simply dressed in olive oil, whole garlic cloves, plenty of fresh herbs and roasted in a hot oven (450) for an awesome dinner tonight, and two or three more meals over the next several days.

After roasting, cool and refrigerate in sealed containers, ideally glass. 
Roasted veggies turn simple mixed leaf lettuce in to a gourmet salad, sandwiched between artisan slices of bread with a few slices of chesses and grilled creates a superior hot sandwich,  or  gently rewarm the veggies and serve with a cooked whole grain such as kasha (buckwheat), brown rice or quinoa

Veggies shown here are from the 7th and Fig Farmers Market in downtown Los Angeles. Thursdays from 10-3

Sea Scallops on bed of Lentils and Spinach

Quick and easy one saute pan/ one saucepan meal!

half a cup lentils, two cups of water, garlic, half a spanish onion, simmer 30 minutes, or until tender.  Avoid boiling to retain lentils shape.

Cook 2 strips of tofu, pork or beef bacon (depending on your desired level of enlightenment ;0) until crisp, set aside.

Using same saute pan, sear one pound of scallops (in two batches-never crowd a pan!) in a teaspoon of butter...allow scallops to cook for one minute over medium to high heat, turn (only once to allow browning/carmelizing)) and cook additional one minute, remove from pan.

Toss a generous handfull of clean and dry baby spinach in to hot sautee pan, spinach will cook very rapidly, under one minute, remove spinach as soon as it wilts,

add one tablespoon apple cider vinagar to hot sautee pan, deglaze aprox one minute..

.place lentils and spinach on serving plate,  sprinkle with chopped crisp bacon, top with seared scallops and drizzle with apple cider reduction....serve with lemon, and a nice salad

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Peruvian Style Ceviche

Classic Peruvian Style Ceviche:
Sea bass, key lime, sea salt, bitter orange, serrano chili, purple onion, and red pepper. Marinate several hours. Served with sweet potato, roasted corn, and red or purple potato

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Protien and Healthy Fats in the Morning and Cereal Grains at Night?

 Yes! Save the cereal grains, granola, jam and toast for a sleep inducing late night snack. 
Breakfast is the time to break the fast, and let your body know it's not going to be starved for the day.
The key is to watch your serving sizes, practice mindfulness while you eat, don't gobble and eat slowely...stop when you are 80% full
Hearty and delicious breakfast suggestions from around the globe: 
•Eggs Benedict  •veggie and cheese omelet  •broiled fish and the slightly sweet Japanese omelet Tamagoyaki  •Chinese dim sum dumplings of delectable seafood's  •Vietnamese seafood or poultry Pho  •Indian curry, dal or sag paneer  •Mexican breakfast burrito with regular or soy chorizo • Quiche, Strata or Italian Fritata

Los Angeles Times 
April 2, 2010 
 A new study suggests our bodies are primed to eat high-fat meals upon waking, and that high-carbohydrate breakfasts (mmm, pancakes) set us up to be unable to process high-fat meals later in the day.....
Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Baylor College of Medicine kept two groups of mice. One group got a high-fat meal upon waking and a low-fat meal before bedtime; the other had the low-fat meal first and the high-fat meal for dinner. Both groups of mice consumed “identical” amounts of total calories and calories from fat.  But the mice with high-fat breakfasts had “significantly lower body weights and body fat composition” than their counterparts who ate high-fat dinners, according to their study published this week in the International Journal of Obesity.
Those weren’t the only differences. The mice that began the day with more carbs developed insulin resistance, a condition that increases the risk for Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. They also wound up with more insulin, leptin and triglycerides circulating in their blood, which are also associated with diabetes and heart disease....more from Los Angeles Times

Time-of-day-dependent dietary fat consumption influences multiple cardiometabolic syndrome parameters in mice.....full article from Pub Med

Monday, April 5, 2010

Seafood Markets Downtown

Whole fish is not only a better value, it's much easier to see the level of freshness in whole fish than in a small fillet. Whole fish shrinks less during cooking, and bones and trimmings are the beginning of an excellent fish stock.
All three of the fish shown are a mere $2.99 per pound at several of the markets in Chinatown.

Pictured: pacific sierra aka spanish mackerel, white bass, and red tilapia. Their small size insures minimal Mercury, and low environmental impact.

When fish is less than fresh look for "Frozen-at-Sea" (FAS) When thawed, sea-frozen fish are almost indistinguishable from fresh fish, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. In reality FAS is almost always your safest choice. 'Fresh' may mean 5 or 6 six days on ice, and that is way less than fresh if not downright gross...