Friday, March 29, 2013

The Super Root: Ginger

I confess. I love ginger!

I love to eat anything with ginger in it. So, of course, it leads to me loving working with it in the kitchen. Besides having a fantastic flavor, it is zesty and has a little spicy kick to it.

Ginger--what is it really you say???? Well, it is the mostly underground root of the ginger plant. It has a thicker brownish skin on it and the color of the flesh inside ranges from white, yellow to even a little reddish.

I love that this root is great for many stomach problems such as nausea or vomiting. I find if my stomach isn’t feeling great that a nice hot tea made with fresh ginger and honey will help me to feel better very quickly. Ginger is full of antioxidants, immune boosters and has very potent anti-inflammatory properties. The super awesome and very distinct flavor we all love from ginger comes from gingerol. Gingerol is the main active component in ginger and may help inhibit the growth of some (colorectal and ovarian) cancer cells.

The top places that ginger is produced are Jamaica, India, Fiji, Indonesia and Australia. These are many places that also seem to use ginger a lot in their cuisines. When using ginger, fresh is always better. But it is also nice to keep some crystallized ginger on hand to chop up and toss into your favorite desserts.

The best way to get the outside skin off the ginger is by carefully peeling it with a pairing knife. Then you can chop up or zest the ginger flesh on the inside.

I have a favorite ginger sauce that I use for fruit skewers or for a simple fruit salad. It helps to give a zesty little bump in flavor to the fresh fruit. I also love it because it is a super easy way to make Foodgasm worthy food. Try it out today for a Gingeriffic Foodgasm!

 Ginger Lime Sauce

3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons agave syrup
3 heaping teaspoons of grated fresh ginger

Mix all ingredients together till combined.
Toss sauce into a fresh fruit salad or drizzle over fresh fruit skewers before serving.

Vegetarian • Vegan • Gluten-Free • Dairy-Free

Friday, March 22, 2013

Gluten-Free Fish Sticks

It's that Friday fish time again. I have a fantastic and super easy recipe for homemade fish sticks and tartar sauce that is gluten-free and completely Foodgasmic.

It will take you less time to make this recipe than it will for you to heat up some frozen fish sticks in the oven. And it will be healthier for you and taste way better. I love the flavor and crispness of the breading even more than when using just plain flour. The almond flour adds great flavor and the rice flour adds a nice lightness to it.

I've also included a recipe for an herbed tartar sauce to go with. Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Fish Sticks
Serves 4

1.5  pounds white fish (Halibut or Cod)
2 eggs, whisked
½ cup almond flour or almond meal
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon cracked pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
¼ - ½ cup olive oil

·       Rinse fish fillets in cold water, pat dry and set on a plate

·       Cut fish into 1 inch by 5 inch pieces, following the lines of the fillets (remove any bones if needed)

·       Place eggs in one dish and flours with salt, pepper and paprika in another.

·       Dip fish sticks in egg, then flour; reserve to a plate

·       Put 5 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet and heat oil on medium high.

·       Place half of the fish sticks in the pan, leaving enough room around them so that they aren’t too crowded.

·       Cook for a few minutes on each side, until nicely golden brown then remove fish sticks to a plate lined with a paper towel.

·       Add 5 more tablespoons olive oil to pan and fry remaining batch of fish sticks.

·       Serve the Gluten-Free Fish Sticks with Herbed Tartar Sauce (see recipe below).

Herbed Tartar Sauce
Makes 1 ½ cups sauce

½ cup OIKOS plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup cornichons or gherkins (mini dill pickles), finely chopped
¼ cup capers, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
1 teaspoon chive, chopped
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh cracked pepper


·      Mix all ingredients together in small bowl.

·      Store in refrigerator till needed.

·      Serve with the Gluten-Free Fish Sticks.

So, try this out and let me know if you loved it as much as I did.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Catch This Fish Quickly

Here's a quick fish dish, for Friday . . . or any other day of the week. It's not fancy. It's comfort food pushed way past the box.

 I admit. When I was a kid, my mother would make this form a box, with some additions.  But this is a totally homemade version. And because of that, the flavors are so much better. And no preservatives.

The good news--this is still comfort food. (And my mother never uses box mixes for anything. I'm such a good influence!)


Macaroni & Cheese with Tuna and Peas
Serves 6

      4 cups dried macaroni or small noodles of your choice
1/2 stick butter (4 tablespoons)
¼ cup AP flour
2-½ cups whole milk
2 teaspoon (heaping) mustard powder (Dijon mustard may be substituted)
1 1b. grated cheeses (I used a combo of sharp cheddar, parmesan and Munster)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
2 -3 cans drained canned tuna
2 cups cooked peas
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
dash cayenne pepper

OPTIONAL- you can also throw in or top macaroni and cheese with fresh herbs. I used chopped fresh basil on top for this version.

Cook macaroni until al dente(cooked till firm, but not hard) and drain.

In a large pot, melt butter and sprinkle in flour. Whisk together over medium-low heat.          Cook mixture for 3-5 minutes over medium heat, whisking constantly. This will make the   rue, which will help thicken the sauce.
Pour in milk, add mustard, salt, pepper and whisk until smooth. Cook for five minutes or until very thick.
Reduce heat to low.
Add in cheese and stir to melt. Add in spices and taste to see if you need any additional seasoning (salt and pepper).

Pour in drained, cooked macaroni and stir to combine. Add in drained tuna and
cooked peas.
If using fresh herbs, stir in now (you may also sprinkle them on top at the end).

Serve immediately (which will be very creamy) or pour into a buttered baking dish, top with extra cheese, and bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes (or until bubbly and golden on top).

Add a salad to this. Pour a glass of wine. And get comfy.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Vegan Shamrock Shake

For St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I’d try making a vegan shamrock shake. I do admit shamrock shakes are a bit tasty, but also totally full of chemicals. So, I made mine with vegan ice cream, soymilk, peppermint extract and a natural food dye.

First of all it is amazing how many varieties of vegan ice cream are now available at Whole Foods (and some at other grocery stores). They have vegan ice creams made with soymilk, coconut milk and almond milk. They all looked fantastic, I went with a soymilk one called So Delicious (and it was). I love it since it is sweetened with fruit juices and not with refined white sugars.

And for the beautiful light mint green color, I used fresh spinach juice as a natural and very healthy food dye. Since it's such a small amount, the spinach juice doesn’t change the flavor of the shake. It’s a wonderful way to still enjoy this holiday treat: but without all the chemicals, refined sugars, dairy, cholesterol and extra calories.
Why not try this super yummy vegan version of the Shamrock Shake today. I know you’ll thank me. SLAINTE!! (Gaelic for “Cheers”)

Vegan • Gluten-Free

Makes 2 shakes

1 pint (2 cups) vegan vanilla ice cream (I used So Delicious)
¾ teaspoon organic peppermint extract
½ cup soy creamer or vegan milk
2 teaspoons fresh spinach or kale juice (this is for color, you can use 2 drops of green food color instead)

Add vegan ice cream, peppermint extract, and soy creamer (milk) to blender and blend till thick and creamy. Add in spinach/kale juice or food coloring and blend till light green color is spread throughout. Pour into glasses, garnish with a sprig of fresh mint and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Doing It By Hand

In the kitchen I have a few favorite kitchen “toys” that I love to work with. One of them is my hand juicer. Hand juicers come in different sizes and colors. Some hand juices come in a color that corresponds to the size and fruit that it fits. Orange color is large to fits orange halves, yellow color is medium to fit lemon halves and green is small to fit lime halves. Mine is yellow and nicely accommodates both lemons and limes.

I love that it’s a quick and easy way to juice citrus without all the seeds and a little less messy too. Though personally I don’t mind when an extra juicy lemon gives me a quick squirt every once and awhile. To me that's part of the joy of cooking.

I really like that this tool is super easy to clean and also so fun looking. With its bright color, it looks great in most any kitchen. I find my hand juicer works just perfect for all my recipes that need fresh citrus juice. Also, fresh juice is cheaper, healthier and much better tasting than juice out of a bottle.

You can find this hand juicer at most general retail and gourmet food stores. It’s a perfect addition to your basic kitchen utensil collection. Have fun squeezing!!!