Spicy Cabbage Bowl

Have you ever looked in your fridge wondering, what the heck am I going to make for lunch? Here’s a quick take on a salad bowl, nesting in a vibrant cabbage shell, topped with a spicy peanut sauce that packs a big punch!

During our weekly shopping trip, a fresh red cabbage immediately caught our attention. We’ve been trying to incorporate more vegetables into our diet and thought we would make our own take on a salad bowl. Salads can often be boring and bland, while keeping you longing for more. Our spicy cabbage bowls have a diverse flavor profile and an abundance of textures to keep your taste buds engaged. We used red cabbage, lettuce, carrots, radishes, sprouts and topped it with avocado. The spicy thai peanut sauce provides a rich, peanut flavor that can really spice up your mundane salad. Fold the bowl up like a taco, take a bite and enjoy your healthy, satisfying lunch!

Fun fact: Red cabbage get their distinctive color from a pigment called anthocyanin. Anthocyanins act as antioxidants, helping to repair damaged cells and lowering your risk of cancer.

Steps (Cabbage Bowl)
1. Remove 2-3 outermost layers of the red cabbage and rinse and dry for each bowl
2. Add cut vegetables like lettuce, carrots, radishes and sprouts to the inside of the bowl
3. Top with sliced avocados and spicy peanut sauce

Ingredients (Spicy Peanut Sauce)
1 clove garlic (chopped)
2 serrano chilis (cut)
0.5 cup unsweetened coconut milk
0.75 cup peanut butter
3 tbsp rice vinegar
3 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp maple syrup

Steps (Spicy Peanut Sauce)
1. Cut the serrano chilis in half. Keep the seeds if you want that extra kick, if you want a milder sauce, remove the seeds
2. Add all ingredients except the coconut milk and vinegar into a food processor and pulse until smooth
3. Add coconut milk and vinegar and pulse until all ingredients are mixed

Spice up your life and try our spicy cabbage bowls! You can add leftover chicken, sliced deli meats, rice, quinoa or an endless variety of your favorite ingredients. Make it your own and let us know what your favorite combinations are!

Spicy Rainbow Noodles

If there is one dish that each culture can relate to, it’s noodles! They really are the universal language amongst foodies. Our favorite part about making noodles is the simplicity, efficiency, and numerous ways you can customize them to your liking.

Coming from a Japanese and a Vietnamese family, we are very accustomed to a delicious bowl of ramen or pho. However, we wanted to step out of our comfort zone and make our own noodle dish that doesn’t fit into any particular category.

Fun fact: Noodles originated from a desert region in central Central Asia, the Tarim Basin in China’s Xinjian province. It is believed that Marco Polo brought noodles from China to Italy in the 13th century – the origins of the beloved pasta!

During our weekly shopping trips at the asian market, these multicolored vegetable noodles immediately caught our eye. We knew right away we had to make a dish with these noodles as our base. The vegetables used to make the noodles include: potatoes, carrots, amaranth and spinach. You don’t taste much of the vegetables when you’re eating the noodles, but they are extremely delicious nonetheless (similar to egg noodles). We added some of our favorite proteins (shrimp and ground pork) along with our favorite type of eggs to cook with – quail eggs! If you haven’t cooked or eaten quail eggs, we highly recommend them. They are bite sized (equivalent to a grape tomato), the perfect texture and taste very similar to chicken eggs. We added chili paste to give the noodles that extra zing, but feel free to substitute or leave out if you’re not feeling spicy.

Ingredients:

1 bag of Safoco Vegetable Noodles (can be substituted with ramen/egg noodles)
0.5lb deveined and peeled shrimp
0.5lb lean ground pork
Minced garlic
0.5 sliced onion
1tbsp of ghee
Quail eggs
Sambal chili paste
Soy sauce
Rice vinegar

Steps:

1. Boil noodles according to package instructions
2. Mix chili paste, soy sauce, and rice vinegar and set aside
3. Pan fry garlic, onions, pork and shrimp, and quail eggs in ghee
4. Mix cooked noodles and pan fried items together and drizzle sauce mixture over it
5. Enjoy

If you’re looking for a quick meal that can bring your friends and family together, make sure to try our spicy noodle recipe and feel free to make it your own. Let us know what your favorite type of noodle is!

Pork & Shrimp Gyoza

A few years ago, we went on a bike tour in Kyoto, Japan and the tour leader took us to his favorite gyoza shop in his neighborhood. It was hands down the best gyoza we have ever had. This inspired us to make our own homemade gyoza with a twist – gyoza with green spinach wrappers!

Gyoza is a dumpling filled with meat and vegetables, wrapped with a thin envelope of dough. Think of it as a delicious envelope filled with meat and veggies. Originating in China, these dumplings are immensely popular in Japan. During World War II, Japanese soldiers were exposed to jiaozi (Asian dumplings) in Northern China. The Japanese loved the dish so much, they recreated it. In fact, gyoza is the Japanese pronunciation of jiaozi!

Fun fact:
There are three main types of gyoza with Yaki Gyoza (pan fried) being the most popular. Yaki Gyoza are pan fried on a skillet, giving it a crispy bottom while maintaining the soft, juicy-ness within. Sui gyoza are boiled and often served in a light broth. Age gyoza are crispy deep fried gyoza found mostly at Chinese and specialty gyoza restaurants.

The green spinach wrappers we used are infused with spinach puree. It doesn’t taste different in our opinion, but it’s nice to know that there are added nutrients. And we just love the color!

Ingredients:

For gyoza:
0.5 lb lean ground pork
0.5 lb peeled and deveined shrimp
1 cup of minced green or napa cabbage
1 tbsp minced ginger
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Spinach gyoza wrappers
1 tbsp ghee

For dipping sauce
Soy sauce
Sambal chili sauce
Rice vinegar

Steps:

  1. Combine pork, shrimp, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, and a little bit of pepper and salt and pulse in food processor
  2. Microwave a tsp of the gyoza filling for about 50 sec to taste. Add more salt or pepper if necessary
  3. Place a tsp of gyoza filling into the center of the gyoza wrapper and use your finger to wet a line around half of the gyoza wrapper and fold it over. You can either pleat the ends or use a fork to seal the gyoza
  4. Heat a pan up and coat it with ghee
  5. Place wrapped gyoza into the heated pan and flip once one side is brown
  6. Then place 1/4 of a cup of water straight into the pan and close a lid over it.
  7. Remove lid and let water evaporate
  8. Flip gyoza over to brown both sides
  9. Enjoy with gyoza dipping sauce

Tips:
-Using less water is better than more water when making gyoza because the wrapper can break with too much water
-Smaller amounts of filling is better for gyoza to ensure a good seal
-You can use vegetable oil instead of ghee. We just wanted to try frying it with ghee because we like the buttery taste it adds to the gyoza

Gyoza is always a good compliment to any main dish, but really shines as one of our favorite bar foods. A good beer and gyoza will always put us in a state of nirvana – maybe that’s more the beer, but who knows. Let us know your favorite type of gyoza!

Rice Cake Combos

If you’re looking for a quick, crunchy snack you can dress up with limitless combinations, these are for you! Rice cakes are relatively lower in calories (60 cal/rice cake) compared to other carbohydrates such as bread or crackers. Rice cakes don’t have an overly impressive nutrient profile, but they can be a great snack when you balance them with other nutritious toppings. For instance, pairing rice cakes with almond butter/peanut butter and bananas or blueberries would give you a balance of carbohydrates, protein and fiber.

Quaker rice cakes (salt free): Calories: 35, Carbs: 7g, Fats: 0g, Proteins: 1g

Quaker rice cakes (chocolate – pictured): Calories: 60, Carbs: 12g, Fats: 1g, Proteins: 1g

A vast majority of rice cakes are gluten-free, making them a great snack for those with gluten sensitivity.

You can find a wife variety of sweet and savory flavors such as Cinnamon, Chocolate, Popcorn, Tomato & Basil, etc. but be mindful of the amount of salt and/or sugar added.

Norooz – A New Day!

Colin and I have been lucky enough to meet and befriend people of all different cultures. Coming from a Japanese and Vietnamese family, we both know a decent amount about Asian culture. However, we’re always looking to immerse ourselves in different cultures and learn customs and traditions that have been around for generations. This is one of the reasons why we enjoy traveling!

In my Master’s program, I met one of my good friends Shaghayegh (Sherry) who really bridged the gap between Asian and Persian cultures. She is purely of Iranian descent, but has an impressive knowledge of Asian culture. In fact, she speaks Japanese more fluently than Colin does! (And she even does so in the anime baby voice that makes the hairs on my arms stand up.) I’ve had a few Persian friends, but never really learned about the culture and traditions. When Sherry invited me over to her house for Norooz, I was like “helllll yeahhh.”

Norooz (meaning a new day) is the Persian/Iranian New Year celebrated on the first day of spring or vernal equinox and marks the first day of the month (Farvardin) of the Iranian calendar. Norooz has been celebrated for over 3,000 years in Iran, Western Asia, Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Black Sea Basin and the Balkans.

In Iran, it is customary to begin spring cleaning and preparations for setting up a decorative table called Haft Sin two to three weeks before Norooz. The extent of the decorations can vary, but the same basic essentials are typically used. Haft means seven and Sin is the Persian (Farsi) alphabet for the letter S, together meaning seven items that start with the letter S. Haft sin as a whole represents humans progression from the material world to the spiritual world through constant renewal and rebirth which is represented by Norooz or the first day of spring. These seven items include:

  1. Sabzeh: wheat, barley or lentil sprouts growing in a dish, symbolizing rebirth
  2. Samanu: a sweet pudding made from wheat germ, symbolizing affluence
  3. Senjed: the dried fruit of the oleaster tree, symbolizing love
  4. Seer: garlic, symbolizing medicine
  5. Seeb: apple, symbolizing beauty and health, also heavenly fruit
  6. Somaq: sumac, a type of spice from the flowering plants in the genus Rhus, symbolizing the color of sunrise
  7. Serekh: vinegar, symbolizing age and patience

If one of the Sins is missing it can be replaced with:

  1. Sonbol: hyacinth flower, which grows in spring
  2. Sekkeh: coins, symbolizing prosperity and wealth

In addition to Sin there are also non-Sin items including:

  • Traditional Iranian sweets such as baklava
  • Dried nuts and fruits (ajeel)
  • Lit candles (enlighten and happiness)
  • A mirror (self reflection and introspection)
  • Decorated eggs (one for each member of the family, also representing fertility)
  • A bowl of water with goldfish (sign of Pisces which the sun is leaving)
  • A crystal bowl of water with an orange in it (the earth floating in space)
  • A book representing wisdom such as Zoroastrian’s Holy Book (the Avesta), Muslim’s Quran or Iranian poetry books (Shahnameh or Divine Hafez)

In Iran, Norooz is celebrated for the first 13 days of the first month of the year (Farvardin). On the first day, everyone in the family traditionally wears new clothes and gathers around the Haft Sin. Once the New Year begins, family members hug each other and wish each other a happy new year! The head of the family (typically the father) passes out Eidi; money hidden in the book of wisdom. Another custom of the first day is to eat sabzi mahi polo, a dish made of herbed rice and Caspian white fish. Throughout the 13 days of celebration, it is customary to visit relatives and friends, starting with the elders of the family. The number 13 is a bad luck number in Iranian Culture. Therefore, when the 13th day of Norooz arrives, “sizdah be dar” is celebrated and every family will go out in nature or have a picnic outdoors. Young girls will often tie a knot with the Sabzeh, wishing for a good partner. The Sabzeh is thrown in running water to protect the wishes from evil and bad luck. Jokes and pranks are played on sizdah be dar, similar to April Fool’s Day!

Learning about Persian culture was extremely fascinating and an honor to be part of, not to mention the incredible food! I was awestruck by the amount of detail and symbolism associated with each particular decoration. There were also a few similarities that paralleled Asian culture such as the Eidi and Li Xi (lucky money) given during Tet or Chinese New Year. We owe a big thanks to Sherry for teaching us about Norooz and letting us share everything we learned about her culture.

I hope that we can continue learning about other cultures through friends and traveling abroad. I find that even though various cultures seem drastically different at face value, they share many of the same core beliefs, such as the importance of family and respect. Let us know a little about your culture and your favorite traditions!

Korean Sauna Eggs

If you’ve ever watched a Korean drama, you may be familiar with these eggs, often enjoyed in Korean saunas. Korean Sauna eggs are light brown on the inside and have a deep, tasty roasted nut-like flavor. These eggs are the typical ones you find at your grocery store, but it’s the specific cooking process that makes them unique in color and taste! You can enjoy these eggs as a tasty snack or add it as a side dish to your next hearty meal.

Originally, these eggs were cooked over the steam produced by the sauna. I’m assuming a lot of you don’t have a sauna readily available (or at least one that you can cooks eggs in). If you do, let us know and we’ll be over ASAP!

Fun fact: These eggs are also known as Huevos Haminados due its origin in Medieval Spain and are popular in Jewish communities in the Middle East and Mediterranean. They are often served during Passover Seders (a ritual ceremony). Historically, these eggs were known as “7 hour eggs.”

Making the Korean Sauna Eggs was a near effortless process with our Instant Pot pressure cooker (IP). The eggs sit on a metal egg rack over the salt water mixture and are cooked for 2 hours. Instead of the white albumen (protein-rich) part of the egg, we get a well-tanned, rich, and tasty hardboiled egg. The yolk color remains more or less the same, but the texture is more creamy and rich in our opinion. And just like that your regular hardboiled eggs have undergone a total transformation. They could have their own television series: “Extreme Makeover: Korean Sauna Egg Edition!”

Fun fact: Did you know that the albumen (egg white) of eggs contains very little fat and cholesterol and a lot of protein. This makes egg whites a great option to get that extra protein in your diet.

We highly recommend making these Korean Sauna Eggs and we can promise that you’ve never tasted an egg like this before. We gave one of our Korean friends an egg to try and his review – “BOMB!” He’s normally not a man of few words, so he must have enjoyed (side note: I have never seen a whole egg disappear that quickly.) Another foodie friend said, “KOREAN SAUNA EGG SO GOOT!”

It seems like this recipe is a hit and a crowd pleaser for sure! Let us know if you try it and how you would describe the taste!

Nutritional Breakdown (per egg):

Calories: 70, Carbs: 0g, Fats: 5g, Proteins: 6g

Ingredients:

7-14 eggs at room temperature
2 tsp salt
2 cups of cold water

Steps:

1) Wash eggs thoroughly
2) Mix salt and water together and pour into inner pot of IP
3) Place eggs in egg rack
4) Flip valve to SEAL
5) Set IP to HIGH PRESSURE for 2 hours
6) Quick release the valve to VENT
7) Place eggs in cold/ice water
7) Peel and enjoy!

Disclaimer: We are not nutritionists. All of our information is based on experience, working with personal trainers, research and background knowledge from our education in the health field. Make sure to work with a nutritionist when deciding what foods and nutrients are best for your goals and overall health.

Homemade Açaí Bowls: Join the Craze!

There are so many healthy meals and snacks we like to make, but our homemade açaí bowls might be our favorite! We initially got hooked on açaí when we ate our first açaí bowl at Haleiwa Bowls on the North Shore of Oahu. If you’ve never tried açaí before, the taste reminds us of a mix between blueberry, cranberry and pomegranate with a hint of tartness to it.

Fun Fact: Harvesting açaí berries are no easy task. Massive açaí palm trees can grow over 60 feet, making the task of retrieving these fruit difficult and potentially dangerous.

Açaí berries are native to Central and South America, pre-dominantly in Brazil. These berries are considered a “superfood” because of its abundance of health and nutritional benefits. In comparison to other fruits, açaí berries are relatively low in fat and sugars. Açaí also contains anthocyanins that give the berries and their deep purple appearance and act as an antioxidant in the body. Antioxidants play a vital role in neutralizing free radicals that damage cells and can lead to a number of systemic conditions such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc. For comparison, açaí berries contain three times the amount of antioxidants compared to blueberries. Additionally a high amount of fatty acids such as Omega-3s and Omega-6s can be found in these berries. Omega-3s can help to lower cholesterol and your risk of heart disease.

Nutritional breakdown:

Açaí portion only (Serves 2) – Calories: 240, Carbs: 20g, Fats: 0g, Proteins: 2g
*Additional calories should be considered based on toppings added

Ingredients:

2 packets of Sambazon Acai
0.5 cup Kirkland Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
0.5 cup 100% apple juice
A handful of frozen mixed berries
1 frozen banana

Topping options:

Fresh cut fruit
Peanut butter
Almond butter
Honey
Maple syrup
Coconut flakes
Hemp seeds
Chia seeds
Granola

Steps:

1) Run the frozen acai packets under warm water for a couple of seconds
2) Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse
3) Add more almond milk or apple juice to get the desired texture
4) Add toppings and enjoy!

Notes:

A food processor is necessary for this making this açaí bowl. In my experience, even a good blender can’t produce the desired consistency.

We hope you’re able to join the açaí craze and add your favorite toppings to the mix! Let us know some of your favorite açaí places or tag us in your homemade açaí bowls!

Disclaimer: We are not nutritionists. All of our information is based on experience, working with personal trainers, research and background knowledge from our education in the health field. Make sure to work with a nutritionist when deciding what foods and nutrients are best for your goals and overall health.

-Colin & Lisa