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Salad with Avocado-Wasabi Dressing

Salad with Avocado-Wasabi Dressing

This Japanese-inspired salad is easy to make. Its ingredients are simple and accessible, at least here in the Philippines. Its being healthy does not compromise its taste.

The creaminess of the dressing is akin to mayonnaise with wasabi while the sweetness of the mango introduces sudden bursts of sweetness and softness. The toasted sesame seeds, which are loaded with calcium, adds a bit of crunch.

DRESSING
1 medium-sized avocado, pitted
½ freshly squeezed lime
1 Tbsp grape seed oil or extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic, peeled
1 tsp wasabi taste
A pinch of sea salt
Water as needed

SALAD
7 leaves of lettuce, sliced
½ medium-sized carrot, peeled and grated
½ medium-sized cucumber, peeled and julienned
1 medium-sized mango, sliced into cubes
1 sheet of nori, shredded
1 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

PROCEDURE
1. Blend the ingredients for the dressing then set aside. Place in a sealed container and refrigerate while preparing the vegetables and other ingredients.
2. Toss the rest of the ingredients into a big bowl along with the dressing. Mix gently.

SERVING SIZE
3 to 4 persons.

NOTES
1. Feel free to adjust the dressing according to your taste. Personally, I’d like to add more wasabi but my Mom doesn’t like it too spicy.
2. Add water sparingly on the dressing. Use only enough for the ingredients to combine smoothly.
3. This recipe is both vegan- and vegetarian-friendly.

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Scarlet Salad

Scarlet Salad

I’ve been obsessing for some time on how to incorporate red beets into our family’s meals and to actually make it an attractive addition. Adding it to fresh vegetable juices, and its steamed version to salads result in little uptake. Beet-flavored hummus is met with indifference. Seeing the Scarlet Salad recipe at http://www.freshncrunchy.net with a remark that it’s among the favorites in the blogger’s household ushers in new hope. Indeed, our family loves it!

The following recipe is heavily referenced on the said blog entry. Slight alterations have been made to suit my family’s taste and my Mom’s diet restrictions, to produce a smaller quantity, and to replace a few ingredients with those readily available.

INGREDIENTS
1/3 cup red quinoa
1 cup water
1 medium-sized red beet, peeled and grated
1/2 medium-sized carrot, peeled and grated
5 leaves of lettuce, sliced
1 Tbsp sunflower seeds, lightly toasted
2 Tbsp raisins

DRESSING
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp raw honey
1/2 tsp mustard seed, stone ground
1/8 tsp sea salt
A pinch of cayenne pepper

PROCEDURE
1. Boil the water. Add the quinoa to the boiling water. Lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2. While cooking the quinoa, prepare the rest of the ingredients.
3. Mix the ingredients for the dressing in a smaller bowl.
4. In a large bowl, toss all the ingredients including the dressing. Mix gently.

SERVING SIZE
3 persons

NOTES
1. Beets are available at the supermarket. I, however, find the ones at our local farmers’ market to be fresher and cheaper, as expected.
2. I buy quinoa at Healthy Options. A friend says it’s cheaper at S&R.
3. Mustard seeds are available at Assad Mini-Mart (an Indian store that has branches in Makati, Marikina, and Manila). You may use Dijon mustard instead.
4. The original recipe calls for dried cranberries, which I replace with raisins; maple syrup with raw honey; and black pepper with cayenne.
5. Using maple syrup instead of raw honey will make this vegan-friendly.

For the longest time, it’s been a love-hate relationship with red beets. Love because it has the color of love and it has countless health benefits, and hate because its taste could be too strong especially consumed raw. Many thanks to this Scarlet Salad recipe, raw beets have become more welcome in our home.

Beet has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. It’s also good for the liver as it supports the body’s detoxification process. Quinoa is another interesting ingredient as it is among the best sources of protein in the vegetable kingdom. It’s also rich in fiber and iron.

REFERENCES
1. Lina Liwag. Scarlet Salad. http://www.freshncrunchy.net (Many thanks for this wonderful recipe!)
2. The World’s Healthiest Foods. http://www.whfoods.org

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Hummus Made Easy

Hummus is an Arabic word meaning chickpeas. It is one of our favorite dips that goes well with steamed vegetables such as asparagus and okra, and fish dishes.

I’ve searched the web for recipes. After countless trials, I can confidently say that this version is simple and YUMMY!

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup dried chickpeas (also known as garbanzos)
1/8 cup water
1 clove garlic peeled
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt to taste
1/4 tsp cumin powder (optional)
1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO, optional)

PROCEDURE

1. Prepare the chickpeas.

Canned chickpeas may be used. I, however, prefer the dried ones—despite more taxing preparations—as I try to minimize our consumption of heavily processed and preserved foods.

Soak the dried chickpeas overnight then pressure cook them in water (three times the amount of chickpeas) for about 15-20 minutes. If the chickpeas will instead be boiled, it’ll take about 2 hours according to other blogs I came across.

After pressure-cooking, drain the chickpeas and set aside the used water for blending.

Beans often double or triple in size after soaking and cooking. The above 1/2 cup increases to a little over a cup.

2. Toss all the ingredients into the blender except the EVOO. Blend until smooth. For a smoother consistency, add water.

3. Drizzle EVOO upon serving, which I often forget as the dip is already good as is. I don’t readily add EVOO because we store the hummus in the fridge for at most 4 days; this is to avoid the EVOO from solidifying and to make the stored hummus appear more fresh with the newly drizzled EVOO.

My Mom says EVOO aids in digestion but I read mixed opinions; others recommend without oil. Perhaps, it depends on the quality of the oil. On the other hand, I love adding cumin powder but Mom doesn’t. She associates cumin to a smelly armpit. 🙂

I used to purchase our dried chickpeas from Healthy Options. Recently, I’ve found more affordable ones at Fisher Mall Supermarket along Quezon Avenue and Assad Mini-Mart along Jupiter Street.

Fisher Mall Supermarket
Quezon Avenue corner Roosevelt Street
Quezon City

Assad Mini-Mart
Unit 1-A Eurocrest Building
126 Jupiter Street
(near corner Makati Avenue, across the back facade of the Department of Trade and Industry)
Bel-Air Village, Makati City

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N-Y-T Coco Smoothie

N-Y-T Coco Smoothie

Coconut is one of the wonderful produces we have in the Philippines. Only recently have I consciously appreciated it as I learned that it’s not readily available in other countries.

Coconut can be consumed in many ways and is an essential ingredient in making dishes more delish, especially Bicol dishes, which are my recent fascination. I particularly love drinking its juice first thing in the morning and munching its meat. Well, one munches if the meat is relatively hard. But if it’s on the soft side, it slides in effortlessly. I rather prefer the former for its nutty feel.

If you have leftovers or you simply wish to add a bit of twist, here’s another fantastic way—the Not -Your-Typical Coconut (NYT Coco) Smoothie—to enjoy the coconut juice and meat. I don’t usually measure the ingredients when I make smoothies, but to serve as a guide, I have here rough estimates. Please feel free to change them according to your liking.

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cup coconut juice, frozen
1 cup coconut meat, frozen
1/3 cup almonds, soaked for 30 minutes (may include the water used for soaking; note, the more liquid, the thinner is the consistency)
8 dates, pitted
freshly squeezed juice of half a lemon
1/2 Tbsp ground green cardamon (or cardamom)

PROCEDURE

Toss all the ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth.

While I’ve been wondering whether a coconut is a fruit or a vegetable, others are considering a third category, a nut because of its name. Coconut is none of the above as it’s actually a seed. Botanically speaking, it’s a fibrous one-seeded drupe, which means a fruit with a hard stony covering enclosing the seed. Loosely, coconut can be a fruit, a nut, and a seed (The Library of Congress).

The coconut juice is packed with simple sugar, electrolytes, minerals, and enzymes that aid in digestion and metabolism. Although high in saturated fat, its meat is rich with enzymes that are essential for better health and is an excellent source of manganese (this particularly), copper, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. It is also a very good source of B-complex vitamins (Nutrition-and-You and Self Nutrition Data).

An ingredient that probably stands out for Filipinos like me is cardamon (also known as cardamom). It originates from Southern India and is at present also grown in Sri Lanka. It is aromatic with a lemony undertone. It is rather pricey but a small amount goes a long way, so use it sparingly. In India, it is considered as a “festive spice,” and is often added in sweets and drinks.

Back in the old times, Egyptians chew cardamom seeds as a tooth cleaner while the Greeks and Romans use it as a perfume. Arabs, on the other hand, attach aphrodisiac qualities to it and features it regularly in Arabian nights. Ancient Indians use it as an antidote to obesity and to date has been regarded as a digestive (The Epicentre).

Cardamon is available at Assad Mini-Mart, which is located at Unit 1-A Eurocrest Building, 126 Jupiter St., Bel-Air Village, Makati City. Wondering where exactly along Jupiter, it is a few meters away from Jupiter St. corner Makati Avenue, across the back facade of the Department of Trade and Industry. Telephone number is 897-2543.

REFERENCES
(1) Library of Congress http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/coconut.html
(2) Nutrition-and-You http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/coconut.html and Self Nutrition Data http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3106/2
(3) The Epicentre http://theepicentre.com/spice/cardamom/

The recipe draws inspiration from a drink mixture that was taught in Pio Baquiran’s Ayurvedic Cooking Class.