Monthly Archives: November 2012

Miso-Tahini Soba

Well, a few thanksgiving pounds later and today I just really needed something wholesome.  And healthy.  And warm.  And creamy.  And savory!  This soba is kind of like my scrumptious soba salad, but heartier and for colder weather.  The buckwheat noodles are perfect for a post-thanksgiving meal, but the miso-tahini dressing and avocado give this dish the creamy umame that you still crave after 3 days of gluttony.  This warm bowl of earthy heartiness makes me feel like I might be doing something good for my life, after all.  It’s perfect on a crisp cold day when you just need a little something to warm (and fill!) you up. I used left over brussel sprouts and some cauliflower, but you could use any veggies you have.  Broccoli and carrots would be great too!

I was starving and didn’t take any pictures of the process, so this is a streamlined post.  Let’s get to it!

Miso-Tahini Soba

Serves 4

For the dressing: (All amounts are guesstimates, sorry.  Trust your palate!)

  • 3 tbsp Far East Sesame dressing (If you don’t have this, mix some sesame oil, sugar and rice vinegar and you’ll be good to go)
  • 2tbsp Tahini (ground sesame seed butter)
  • 2 tsp miso paste (I used yellow)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger (or use fresh grated ginger for more of a kick!)

For the noodles:

  • 4 oz. dry Buckwheat Soba noodles
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 10 oz. sprouted tofu, extra firm (if you have regular tofu, make sure to drain it first!)
  • 1 cup cooked brussels sprouts, quartered
  • 4 green onions, green and white parts sliced
  • 1 tbsp black sesame seeds
  • dried seaweed sheets to taste
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  1. Put a large pot of water on to boil. Cook Soba noodles according to directions, then drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Meanwhile, chop veggies and tofu.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in non-stick pan until hot.  Toss in garlic and let cook for 1 minute.  Add mushrooms, cauliflower, tofu and cook on high heat, stirring occasionally.  Let the tofu and cauliflower get all brown and toasty!
  4. Add brussel sprouts and continue cooking for a few minutes.
  5. Add cooked soba noodles and sesame seeds and remove from heat.  Stir to combine with veggies.
  6. Whisk miso, tahini and dressing in a bowl until smooth.  Mix into noodles until everything is covered.
  7. Serve in a bowl, topped with green onions, avocado and shredded seaweed!  I also used some Japanese chili powder.  If you don’t have any, you can use red pepper flakes or Sriracha.

Happy Munching!

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Filed under Healthy Living, Main Courses, pasta, Recipes, Vegetables

Braised Winter Vegetable Pasta

Yes, it has butternut!  But this vegetable dish (with a little pasta!) is hearty and filling, not to mention healthy! It would be perfect to eat by the fireplace while it rains or even better, snows outside.  Except I live in SoCal, so I’ll just pretend.   I adapted the recipe from an Eating Well Meatless Meals cookbook I got last year. The original version is vegan, but I used chicken broth the first time I made it and beef broth this time.  I think the beef broth brings out a nice, rich flavor that compliments the vegetables perfectly. Does it look like a hot brown mushy mess? Like most delicious comfort foods, a thousand times YES! (Think curry, stew, chili!) This recipe makes a HUGE portion so there will be plenty of leftovers!  When I made it this time, the pasta got a little over cooked so if you like it more al dente I would let the veggies boil for a little while and then add the pasta after about 10 minutes.

Braised Winter Vegetable Pasta

  

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 sweet yellow onion, cut into thin rings
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine
  • 8 ounces pasta shells, orrechiete or other small noodles
  • 2 cups butternut squash, cubed
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2 large parsnips, peeled and cubed
  • 4 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 oz. frozen edamame, peeled and shelled
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

  

  1. Heat oil over medium heat in large stock pan or large dutch oven.
  2. Add onions and cook until deep brown, softened and caramelized.
  3. Add beef broth and wine and bring to a boil.
  4. Add all veggies and return to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Cook for about 10 minutes, then add pasta.
  5. Continue cooking over medium-high heat until all the liquid is absorbed and squash and pasta are tender.

Serve with grated parmesan and a crusty piece of french bread!

 

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Filed under butternut madness, Healthy Living, Main Courses, pasta, Vegetables

Butternut Spinach and Kale Gratin

Ok guys, time for more butternut!

Thanks again to Trader Joes for inspiring me to make something far more delicious and nutritious than the microwave version I saw in the store! I couldn’t get the idea of a butternut and spinach gratin out of my head as soon as I saw it at TJs.  I had to make it.  And I’m SOOO glad I did! It’s warm, sweet, savory and cheesy. So basically it hits all the main taste groups except spicy!  It’s even good for you.  This would make a great new thanksgiving side dish, or a vegetarian main course.  I was happy with it tonight served with a left over turkey burger!

Butternut, Spinach and Kale Gratin

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. Butternut Squash, Peeled and sliced into 1/2″ thick pieces (the longer the piece the better)
  • 1 1/2 16 oz package of frozen spinach or kale (or combination of both)
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 cups Chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Salt, Pepper and Garlic Powder to taste

  1. Peel and slice the squash into thick long pieces as best you can.  It’s hard but just try to make sure they are all about the same thickness.
  2. Defrost Spinach or Kale and squeeze out all the water.  Squeeze out as much as you can!
  3. Sautee greens in olive oil until the water cooks out and it starts to stick.  I used my dutch oven to minimize dish washing!  Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste.
  4. Mix in 1/2 of the parmesan cheese and stir
  5. Set aside 1/2 of the greens.  Smush the remaining half down in the bottom of the dutch oven so it is flat (or oven proof casserole dish if you don’t have a stove/oven safe pan).
  6. Layer 1/2 of the squash on top, arranging so there is an even layer on top of the spinach. It’s like a puzzle!
  7. Cover squash with remaining spinach and flatten.
  8. Make a top layer of the rest of the squash, as flat as you can.  Pour chicken broth evenly all over the top.
  9. Cover with remaining parmesan and breadcrumbs.  Spray with olive oil or cooking spray.
  10. Bake at 425, covered for 40 minutes or until squash is easily pierced with a knife.  Uncover and bake for another 15-20 minutes until top is browned, bubbly and golden!

ENJOY!

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Filed under Healthy Living, Main Courses, Recipes, Sides, Vegetables

Yoga and Verbal Behavior

I’m about to nerd out hard on you guys!

Basically, I’ve been super busy lately and haven’t had any time to cook, eat healthy, workout or anything for myself really. Which is fine, because this is the life I chose and it’s only for one more year. I can do it!

Ever since I moved to L.A. I’ve had a hard time relaxing. My mind is whirring a million miles a minute. I have too many places to go, too many things to do and it never ends. I have at least 3 “organizing” apps on my phone and computer with variations of my “to do list”, not counting my calendar!

All this is a new development. Until last year, I lived in a small, slow surfer town. I worked 8-4:30 Mon-Fri and had the rest of my life to myself. Not that I used my time wisely. But I could have if I wanted to. In Santa Cruz my yoga practice began, grew and flourished. I finally learned what it was like to “be in the moment”, forgetting time while you breathe and move. Repetitive movements and rhythmic breathing can lift you up and let your heart sing.

Until it can’t. And you can’t. And your mind is stuck in a loop. You want to relax, but you can’t stop thinking about everything you have to do! Ever! No matter how hard you work out or how hard you zen, you just can’t get to that moment.

Every time I try to practice yoga, my mind gets into a flurry and I can’t stop thinking of how I’m supposed to be relaxing. Then I feel like a failure for not relaxing right! As if I need that stress, right? At this point even thinking about practicing is aversive for me because I know I just won’t be able to do it.
Then I did something brave. I emailed a professor about my problem (it tied into the last few weeks of class and she’s into yoga) and she wrote me back and totally helped me out!

She explained that in moving, starting a new job and a new school I’ve been training my brain to engage in more verbal behavior all the time. New places, tons of reading, new responsibilities and a LOT more driving! So of course it makes sense that now, when I try, I can’t put my inner monologue on hold. I’ve been training myself to do more, think more, notice more for the last year!

She gave me some good advice that I’ve been following and I think it’s going to help me get back to my practice. I’m forgetting about yoga, and practicing meditation. I put on some nature sounds, lay on the floor with my feet flat, hands on my stomach and breathe in and out, pushing my stomach in and out as much as I can with each breath. I have a saying I repeat (a mantra), it can be different each time or the same. I repeat it to myself while breathing. If I catch myself thinking about something else, I start counting. If I catch myself thinking about something else while counting, I switch back to my mantra. I set a timer for 5 minutes and that’s all I’ve been doing.

It’s the best advice anyone could have given me. I’m relaxing more, a little bit at a time. I’m retraining my brain to relax and stop engaging in constant inner verbal monologues. And since the time is so short, it’s super easy which makes me feel confident and successful! It’s a small victory but a victory nonetheless. A lesson that sometimes, when the task is too hard you need to cut back your expectations!

I will gradually increase my time, then bring yoga practice back into my life when I’m ready. I have to give myself time to shape my private verbal behavior back to where I need to be!

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Filed under behavior, Healthy Living, yoga