Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Thai Coconut Shrimp (Prawn) Recipe

I get my shrimp from the fishmonger at my farmer's market. They are, by far, the best prawns I've ever had. I love botanebi, or botan shrimp (the type of sweet shrimp where the heads are coated in potato flour and fried while the tails are left raw) and hokkoku akaebi which is smaller but equally as yummy. But the prawns I use most often are larger and I buy a pound at a time...probably once a month - a pound of these are $16.99. That is a bit rich for my blood but they are worth it. Sweet and lovely.

I made the soup the other night and it was yummy!

For the broth:
Prawn Shells
3 cups of good chicken broth
3 bruised lemongrass stalks
Half an onion
2 cloves of smashed garlic
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 package Pad Thai rice noodle – cook according to your taste and rinse in cold water – set aside.

For the base:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (galangal is best)
1/2 pound (3 to 4 medium) carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced
½ lb zucchini cut into bit sized chunks
1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk
1 tablespoon gluten free cornstarch
1 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed (save for broth)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
TSP Fish sauce
Top with:
4 green onion, thinly sliced
Handful basil & coriander (cilantro) – roughly chopped
chili oil - if you aren't serving kids

Tools: 2 pots, knives, cutting boards, colander, fine mesh strainer, stirring spoon


2. Peel your prawns, clean them and set aside

3. Make your broth - put all of the broth ingredients in a pot, bring to a boil and set to simmer for around 15-25 minutes (or as long as it takes you to do the rest of the stuff for the soup). 

4. Make the soup
Heat oil in a large (3-quart) saucepan over medium-low heat. Add ginger, garlic, carrots and zucchini cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Add, coconut milk, and your stock (use the fine mesh strainer to catch the veggies & spices while pouring in the liquid). In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water until smooth; add to pot. Bring to a boil.
Add shrimp; stir until shrimp are just pink, about 1 minute. Add fish sauce. Remove pot from heat and stir in lime juice.
Put a serve of noodle into a bowl (1.5 cups) and ladle soup over it. Garnish with green onion, basil & coriander. To add more heat add some chili oil at the end. But if you are serving to children - skip the chili oil.
Open a nice Tsingtao.

Rudi's Gluten Free Bread

I thought it would be worth mentioning that Rudi's has gluten free bread. They also have an entire line of baked goods that have gluten. 

They are doing a Spread the Bread Campaign:
"For every dollar coupon downloaded, Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery will give a dollar to The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) to help in their efforts to better educate physicians in the diagnosis of celiac disease. There are an estimated 3 million people in the United States suffering from celiac disease, yet only 160,000 are diagnosed."

This is their website:

I love that they are spreading awareness. I think it is great they are making gluten free breads. 

I received an email from a representative of the company asking if i wanted a sample to try out. Boy did I jump at this opportunity. My favorite on the shelf brands of bread (not mixes) have been Udi's and French Meadow. Boy do I love French Meadow and Udi's may have little tiny loaves but they are delicious and the kids love it.

Rudi's sent me this little package with literature, a loaf of multi-grain, and a cute as a button sandwich box:

I must say...in all honesty - to me, French Meadow is still tops. The Rudi's slices were concave - meaning they didn't have a bump at the top - it was rather an indent. The taste is okay, I find Udi's multi-grain to have a better taste and texture. The Rudi's texture was grainy and I don't mind it so much but it was too spongy - not meaning soft exactly - but not dense enough.

My kids are split on the issue. The 5 year old likes Udi's best and the 2.5 year old Rudi's. What about the husband? Well, I buy him fresh bread every Thursday from the baker.

I still prefer my own. When I was making sourdough this summer I made bread that was wonderful. But I don't have time right now to coddle a gluten free starter, allow bread to rise for 4+ hours and have it possibly fail due to my "grandma-style" (love this phrase) dry to wet ratios.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A few words on diet

So Happy New Year all. I thought I'd start out by talking about that four letter word that sends everybody into a frenzy - diet. 
What is diet? Is it a noun - A diet is food habitually eaten, or is it a verb I've dieted for years and my weight is like a yo-yo, or even an adjective - I'd like a diet soft drink (blech)?
How come it is okay to talk about animals and their diet but not okay to speak of humans in the same manner? How come it is okay to say - flamingos have a diet of crustaceans with a carotenoid pigment that colors their feathers? And not - I have a diet of proteins, fats, veggies, fruit and whole grains? (or in some cases they have a diet of corn, corn, and more corn).
Why do we cringe when we say diet? Because, typically diets means deprivation, starvation and misery. But not for this lady. I commonly speak of my diet in conversation. I also talk freely using the word diet to simply explain how one eats. My family - husband, kids, myself; is not starving, nor overweight, we're healthy, our clothes are normal sizes, we can run, climb, jump and generally feel great. In fact - now that I think about it - we rarely get sick.
I read something disturbing in last month's Organic Gardening Magazine - which I already knew but they put it so well - obesity is a sign of hunger. Wow - how much sense does that make to laymen? If you know anything about nutrition, you will know it is completely true. 
For example - a girlfriend of mine said something this week that just made me want to write - she said she skipped lunch and was so hungry (around 2:00PM). She said, "And that's a really bad thing." This girlfriend has some weight issues that she struggles with due to her life/work balance and  schedule which causes her to skip meals, crave fats and sugars rather than something healthy like nutrient rich proteins, veggies, fruits and whole grains, because she's starving. After she indulges in satiating her immediate craving in an overindulgent way, her body use up what she eats for immediate brain and life support energy (which she does not spend exercising), and stores the rest because her body knows she's going to starve it again and again.
This is why many children in this country are obese and hungry at the same time - not because they are eating too many healthy nutritious foods. Because, believe me, if you food is nutritious, and you even only eat one large meal a day and possibly snack on fruit and veggies the rest of the day - you will not be starving. In fact, if you do not have underlying medical issues or psychological issues which make food turn against you and you are not already extremely overweight, you most-likely will not become obese from eating nutritious food.
One of the first mistakes of people who assume they eat nutritious food is label reading. If you are reading a label, 8 times out of 10 the food has been manufactured - first and foremost in the "no-no" list if you want a healthy diet - there are exceptions - but not many. Ah, convenience - something processed, packaged and made up to look desirable - don't we all love it? But, a-hem, excuse me, this is mother nature speaking - didn't I do that for you already with my apples, bananas, pears, carrots, celery, peas, tomatoes and so on?
Do I have processed stuff in my house? You betcha. Gluten free flours, cheese, ice cream, gluten free baked goods, corn chips, rice crackers, condiments, and some cereals (these are actually from guests and from times when I had the little angels with me - mommy I want 'dat', yet the sit for months). What do you have?
Many people who consider themselves nutrition experts say to avoid corn, soy, dairy, wheat, and sugar. Okay so what else is there to eat? Well there's plenty - but I think this is a very tough statement if you are eating non-manufactured foods. The issue is that the above ingredients are in almost every processed food on the shelf. So if you eat even more of it, on your sandwich, in your pasta bowl, with your steak (or in your steak for that matter if you eat grain fed meats), you're not balancing your diet and the processed forms have no or low nutrients. There's that word again - diet.
So this is a great segue into the second half of this entry. My New Year's Resolution is to get even more veggies into my family's diet. While doing that I really need to cleanse. The holidays have left a heavy feeling in me - something I think may be due to many factors - but definitely overindulgence on things with lower nutritional value.
So, starting Sunday (because I need to go to Farmers Market) we are changing our diet. We already eat on the healthy side but now our diet is going to be organized differently.
Typically we're 30% whole grains, 30% veggies/fruit, 40% proteins and fats - because so often these are together for example dairy, animal protein and nuts all have high protein with fat content.
I'm changing us to 35% veggies, 15% fruit, 10% beans, 20% whole grains and 20% proteins and fats (non bean). So we're still getting 40% proteins but I've shifted to beans and away from grains and fruit. Grains are good, but with gluten intolerance running rampant around here I'm going to see if this helps.
What will the typical day look like from a meal perspective?
Quinoa cereal with squash puree and sunflower seeds (grain, veggie, protein/fats)
Snack - piece of fruit and handful of seeds or nuts (fruit, protein/fats)
Bean and vegetable soup with salad of pressed pickles (beans, veggies, veggies)
Snackpiece of fruit and raw cheese (fruit, protein/fats)
Poached fish (or a 4oz serve of grass fed meat), wild rice, vegetables with broccoli and apple-plum vinegar dressing (protein, grain, veggies)
Ice cream or yogurt with fruit (fruit, protein/fats)
Oh yeah - you bet we snack...healthy snacks keep you from starving. Grabbing food the way mother nature intended is the best!
We drink fresh juices, teas with honey and water.
Luckily my younger son's school serves whole foods and i make lunch for my older son so this shouldn't be that difficult. My oldest likes anything you can dip so veggie/bean purees with whole grain pita works. A bit of fruit and he's got a solid lunch.
Recipes and more on how it is going this week. Until then, enjoy your diet! Don't dread it.