The Silly Nutrition Undergrad

Posts Tagged ‘My Crazy Inventions

[This picture isn’t the best quality, but considering I was in a rush to enjoy it, this was my best shot! Next time I eat it, I’ll take better photos…]

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Oatmeal, hands down, is the ultimate healthy breakfast option for me, the perfect wake-up call to a busy weekday morning.

Today is the start of the school week, and it is also the finish-the-leftovers day. So, combining the goal of pumping myself up with fuel for a busy day at school and the objective of getting rid of last week’s leftover produce, I came up with a crazy oatmeal  flavour. It is a meatless dish that includes bean sprouts and Taiwan cabbage as the key ingredients, infused with Sichuan flavour (inspired by one of my favourite Sichuan dish, Dan Dan noodles).

Quite frankly, if I didn’t need to finish the not-so-fresh product, I would never have thought about putting bean sprouts and Taiwan cabbage in oatmeal. And I would definitely would never consider extracting the flavours of Dan Dan noodles and working it into my oatmeal. Even as I was cooking the dish, I knew this was a risky attempt and I prepared myself that it might not taste as good as it sounds in my head. But somehow, in the end, my oatmeal turned out creamy, spicy, peanutty, and overall, very flavourful. I enjoyed every bite.

So far, my adventure to discover new ways to enjoy oatmeal has taken me in all directions; I’ve tried many new food combinations and played with the sweet and savory flavours. But this episode has really got beyond my imagination, and I must say, from the looks of it, this adventure will only get more crazy, more exciting and more dangerous. Can’t wait until a new crazy oatmeal idea pops into my head!

Oatmeal, Sichuan flavour

What you’ll need:

  • 3/4 cup cooked steel cut oats (regular / quick oats work as well, just not instant oatmeal)
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon chili sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon Chinese sesame paste
  • A drizzle of sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • 1/2 cup Taiwanese cabbage, shredded (Taiwanese cabbage is a different variety from Green Leaf cabbage; it has a sweeter flavour and a more tender texture.)
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock, low sodium preferably
  • 2 tablespoons scallions, finely chopped

What to do:

  • I’m assuming that you have already cooked up a big patch of steel cut oats and have them in individual servings sizes alright — If not, follow these instructions and make some now!
  • Boil a pot of water, put in bean sprouts and Taiwan cabbage, simmer on medium heat until tender. Drain and set aside.
  • In the same pot, pour in chicken stock and stir in the oatmeal and the veggies. Heat mixture on medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together chili sauce, peanut butter and sesame paste. If mixture is too thick to stir well, add in a splash of hot water to help the paste blend together better. Set aside.
  • When oatmeal is heated thoroughly, add the sauce and scallions. Stir well. (At this point, you can adjust the seasoning to taste – if you want a more prominent sweet, nutty flavour, stir in more peanut butter, or if you are looking for more heat, add in chili sauce or chili oil for an extra kick.)
  • Remove from heat, cover pot and let sit for 2 – 3 minutes (let the flavour of the scallion infuse into the oatmeal). Drizzle on sesame oil before serving.

This is really a delicious way to start the day. I can savour the flavours of my favourite lunch dish while treating my body to a bowl of whole grain goodness.

If you’re the type of person who prefers savory breakfasts over sweet ones (and if you enjoy hot and spicy food), then you’ve got to try this recipe, it won’t disappoint you. I promise!

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Simple, nutritious and fulfilling quiche!

Delicious mini quiche loaded with veggies!

Photo by Matthew Chung

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I made a simple quiche for lunch. Coming from an Asian culture, I have no idea what a quiche is at all. So, this is one crazy and brave attempt for me!

Instead of following a solid recipe, I was inspired by Stacy Snacks’s Quickie Quiche recipe and MindBlogging’s Mini Mushroom Quiche recipe and I ended up whipping up my own version.

The end product: a crustless mini quiche in a 6oz ramekin featuring onions and orange peppers.

How did it taste? A little flat, but with a little bit of ketchup, the flavour was greatly enhanced!

Mini Quiche with Onions and Sweet Orange Peppers

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon egg white (can be substituted for an extra tbsp of milk)
  • 1 tablespoon milk (I used 1%)
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 small orange pepper, diced
  • 1 stalk scallion, diced
  • Handful of grated cheese
  • Seasoning: Dijon mustard, salt
  • Olive oil
  • Cilantro, for garnish
  • Ketchup (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Spray ramekin with cooking oil spray.
  2. Whisk together egg, egg white and milk. Add in mustard and salt to mixture. Set aside.
  3. Using olive oil, saute onions and orange peppers until slight soften.
  4. Pour egg mixture into ramekin. Scoop in sauted vegetables until 2/3 full.
  5. Stir in scallion and grated cheese (leave a small amount for garnishing).
  6. Put into oven and bake until egg sets in the center, about 25 – 30 minutes. Quiche is ready when toothpick comes out clean when inserted into center.
  7. Garnish with cilantro and grated cheese. Serve hot!

I love how versatile this dish is. You can practically add in any vegetables you have on hand, and if you want, you can throw in some meat to add flavour (or leave it out like I did). Regardless of what you add in or leave it, the quiche would still taste wonderful.

What makes this dish healthy? The egg is a good source of protein, and the vegetables will help you fit in an extra serving of vegetables (or 2 servings if you use a bigger ramekin). The grated cheese will also help to boost your dairy intake. Serve with a piece of whole wheat toast and this could be a well-balanced breakfast meal or a nutritious, fulfilling side dish at lunch or dinner!

Do you have a favourite quiche recipe? Share it here!

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What’s so great about cauliflower? It belongs to the cruciferous family which includes broccoli, cabbage, bok choy and kale. Many researches have indicated that consumption of cruciferous vegetables can help to reduce the risks of developing cancer. Sulphur-containing compounds, in particular sulforaphane, have been suggested to have a potent ability to trigger liver to produce detoxifying substances. These substances inhibit enzymes from activating cancer-causing agents in the body and enhance the activities of other enzymes involved in disabling and eliminating carcinogens.. For a more in-depth discussion of cauliflower’s health benefits,  visit The World’s Healthiest Food.

To me, cauliflower has always seemed to be a boring food. It doesn’t have a distinct flavour and so it’s never good eaten alone.

Until one day when I was flipping through Ellie Kreiger’s amazing cookbook, The Food You Crave, I bumped into a recipe for roasted cauliflower. Tempted by Ellie’s promise that roasting will breath new life into cauliflower, I adopted her recipe for making roasted cauliflower and tweaked it slightly to my liking.

The end result? A light and delicious healthy vegetable side dish to complement my homemade cheese pizza on Saturday night (post on the pizza dinner coming soon)!

Roasted Cauliflower with Mustard-Mayo Sauce

Adopted from Roasted Nutmeg Cauliflower by Ellie Kreiger (my tweaks)

Ingredients

    • 1 head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), cut into small florets
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (2 good long spray with my olive oil mister)
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • 1 -2 tablespoons Japanese mayonnaise (can be substituted with regular mayonnaise)

Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 350F (since I was using a toaster oven, I set the temperature higher, 400F).
    2. Place cauliflower into a large baking dish (ideally the cauliflower should fit snugly on a single layer). Toss (or spray) with the oil, and sprinkle with nutmeg and salt.
    3. Cover the dish and roast for 30 minutes.
    4. Remove the cover, give the cauliflower a good stir. If it looks dry, give it another good spray with the oil. Then, roast another 30 – 45 minutes uncovered, until the cauliflower is tender and nicely browned. Make sure to stir occasionally to ensure even browning.
    5. In a separate bowl, mix together the Dijon mustard and Japanese mayonnaise.
    6. When done, remove from the oven and mix in the mustard-mayo dressing. Serve hot!
  1. Roasted Cauliflower by Laurel Fan

    Photo by Laurel Fan — I forgot to take a picture so I borrowed one from Flickr…

The recipe is very simple and requires little ingredients. First try the cauliflower without adding in the dressing and see how you like it. When I tried it, I found it to be lacking a special kick and so I got creative and added on the dressing!

The sharp mustard was balanced out by the mild Japanese mayo and the end result was delicious! The mustard added just the special kick I wanted, and the dressing really enhanced the flavour and the dish felt much more full-bodied and fulfilling. Yum!

Try this dish out! The key step of this dish is really to make sure the cauliflower browns nicely. When that is done right, the cauliflower will taste good no matter what spices or what dressing you add to it!

The next time I make this, I think I’m going to give it an Oriental taste by adding in turmeric, curry powder, and cumin seeds.

How do you like to eat cauliflower? Share your recipe here!

The Silly Nutrition Undergrad has moved. Come to Juicy Fresh Bites for new content on health and nutrition!

Everyone should eat oatmeal! It is such a wonderful breakfast option – healthy, simple and delicious! Oats is a whole grain with many essential nutrients and a whole lot of soluble fiber which can have a cholesterol-lowering effect in your body. Plus, it is super easy to make and you can pretty much add in any food you want and it will taste great.

To prepare basic oatmeal, all you need to do is:

  1. Boil 2 cups water in a pot.
  2. When water boils, stir in 1 cup oatmeal (quick oats, regular oats, steel cut oats – whatever you like).
  3. Turn down the heat to minimum and let the oatmeal simmer until it absorbs the water and becomes a thick goo (it becomes slightly chewy and gives a very creamy texture!).
  4. if you like it creamier, add a bit more water and boil it until the water is absorbed.
  5. While the oatmeal is hot, stir in the desired ingredients to create your personalized oatmeal breakfast!
  6. If you have leftover, just place into a container and put it in your fridge when it’s cool. When you want oatmeal again, simply reheat it in the microwave.

3 savory (crazy!) flavours:

  1. My childhood favourite: ground beef and egg. Add marinated ground beef when the oatmeal is almost done. Make sure the ground beef is cooked thoroughly. Then, while constantly stirring, add in a beaten egg to get streaks of egg immersed in the oatmeal (make sure you are stirring the whole time or else you get big chunks of egg and the egg flavour will become too overwhelming!).
  2. My recent new attempt: cheese. Grate some old cheddar, or your favourite cheese, into the bottom of your bowl, then pour in the hot oatmeal. Stir well and enjoy! To me, cheese oatmeal is  like eating a healthy version of Mac n’ Cheese.
  3. Unbelievable tasty: soy sauce + scallions. Stir in 1/2 – 1 tablespoon of soy sauce into 1 cup cooked oatmeal and then stir in about 1/4 – 1/2 cup chopped scallions for an Oriental flavour. Don’t skip the scallions, it adds aroma and a lot of flavour. If you skip it, your oatmeal will taste funny…  By the way, try to use low-sodium soy sauce to prevent sodium overload!

Oatmeal is so versatile. It is actually possible to have it everyday and you will not get bored because you can have different flavours each day! Because it doesn’t have a strong flavour itself, you can really play with the flavour by adding in whatever you want and the oatmeal will adapt to what you add in.

For my next crazy attempt, I’m planning to mix oatmeal with mashed Kabocha squash with a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg. Any other wild combinations that you can think of but never had the courage to try? Share it with me and maybe (just maybe!) I will be brave enough to test it for you…

Question: How do you like to enjoy your oatmeal? Sweet or Savory? What do you add in?