The Silly Nutrition Undergrad

Posts Tagged ‘vegetables

[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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I like eggplant. But I don’t like the fact that it absorbs too much oil when I stir-fry it. So, I decided to find new recipes to cook eggplant in a less greasy manner. On One Hot Stove, I found a recipe for grilling eggplant.

Miso-Marinated Eggplant

What you’ll need:

  • 1 Asian eggplant, sliced into thick rounds (any variety will work, but I find Asian eggplants are naturally sweeter)
  • Sesame seeds, for garnish


  • 1 tablespoon white miso
  • 1/2 tablespoon tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1 – 2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar (apple cidar vinegar will also work)
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
  • Hot water

What to do:

  • Turn on the broiler. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • While the oven preheats, prepare the marinade. Simply combine all the ingredients and stir well. Add in hot water slowly to thin out marinade to desired consistency (I like the consistency of a thick yogurt).
  • Dip eggplant rounds into marinade, making sure both sides are well coated. Place eggplant slices on a single layer on cookie sheet. Sprinkle sesame seeds on each piece.
  • Broil for 20 minutes, turning once, until eggplant rounds are nicely browned and cooked thoroughly.

My thoughts: This is my first attempt at grilling eggplant, and it sure tasted different from stir-frying eggplants. By marinating eggplant in miso sauce and then broiling it in the oven, eggplant comes out tender, soft (not mushy!) and takes on an unique, completely new flavour that just kept me eating one after another!

What’s so great about eggplant? Eggplant belongs to the nightshade vegetable family (other members include: bell peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes). It is loaded with different nutrients, especially phytonutrients which have potent antioxidant properties. These compounds have protective effect on the heart and protect our cells from free radical damage. Find out more at WHFoods.

Roasted Kabocha Squash Sauce

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I was getting tired of serving pasta with tomato sauce and so I went on Google to find new recipes to try. My mission was to find a recipe that makes a rich and creamy, yet healthy pasta sauce.

I stumbled upon Poor Girl Eats Well‘s blog and her recipe for Linguine with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Spinach & Ham really caught my attention. I had never thought about using sweet potatoes to make a pasta sauce…this seemed like the perfect solution to my dilemma!

Unfortunately, I had no any orange flesh sweet potatoes on hand, but I did have a Kabocha squash lying around in the corner. So, instead of going out to buy sweet potatoes, I ended up using Kabocha squash as the star ingredient for my pasta sauce.

The end result? Creamy, sweet Kabocha squash sauce exploding with flavour. Delicious!

Roasted Kabocha Squash Sauce

Inspired by Linguine with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Spinach & Ham

  • 1 small Kabocha squash (about 1 pound), scrubbed clean
  • 2 bell peppers, deseeded and cut lengthwise into four pieces
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1/2 carrot, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • Milk (I used 1% milk, but any type is fine)
  • Bay leaves
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt
  • Roast Kabocha squash whole. Spread bell peppers onto a baking sheet. Roast at 425°F for about 45 minutes, or until squash skin is easily pierced with fork and bell peppers nicely blackened. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet, about 15 minutes. Cut open squash and scoop out flesh. Mash with fork or potato masher until smooth and creamy (add a little milk if too dry). [You can also puree it using a food processor.]
  • Heat olive oil in nonstick pan on medium-high heat, sauté onions until slightly soft, about 5 minutes. Add in garlic, sauté until fragrant, about 2 – 3 minutes. Add in celery and carrots, sauté for an additional 1 minute. Add in half cup water and bay leaves, let simmer on medium-low heat until carrots are tender, about 10 minutes. Add in mashed squash and roasted pepper. Remove bay leaves.
  • Transfer 2/3 of the batch into a blender and blend until smooth. Add puree back into pan and heat to boil again. If sauce is too thick, add in water or milk to thin to desired consistency.
  • Let cool and separate into individual portions. Makes about 3.5 cups (about 7 – 8 servings).
  • Note: Sauce will thicken over time – add in milk / water / broth to thin it out before using

Bonus: Although this sauce was made to be a pasts sauce, it can easily be served as a chunky, creamy vegetable soup on a cold winter day. This would taste equally good served over rice too. The possibilities are endless — just play with the consistency!

What’s so great about this recipe?

Healthy and savory sauce disguised as a rich and creamy sauce! It’s meatless – all the flavour comes from the vegetables. Plus, most of the vegetables are pureed – creating a thick and creamy texture and helping to boost your daily vegetable intake at the same time!

Do you like Kabocha squash? What’s your favourite way to enjoy it?


Simple and delicious roasted crimini and portabella mushrooms.

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This is a dish that can be assembled in no more than 10 minutes.
This is a dish that uses minimal ingredients to create itnense flavours.
This is a dish that will fill your house with a divine, mouth-watering aroma.
It is THE side dish that will spice up your ordinary dinner!

Simple Roasted Portabella and Crimini Mushrooms

Adopted from Epicurious

What you’ll need:

  • 3/4 pound Cremini mushrooms, rinsed, stemmed and cut lengthwise into halves
  • 1/4 pound Portabella mushrooms, rinsed, stemmed and cut into thick slices
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 5 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil (I used my olive oil mister)
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. In a large roasting pan, stir in all the ingredients. (I gave the mushrooms 3 – 4 good long sprays with my mister.) Make sure the mushrooms are well coated with rosemary and give your black pepper grinder a few good twists! Save the salt for now, we’ll add it at the end. Try to use a large enough roasting pan so that mushrooms are on a single layer (but it’s okay if they overlap too).
  3. Roast mushrooms for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so to prevent mushrooms from sticking to the pan. The mushrooms are ready when the juices are almost all evaporated and mushrooms are nicely browned.
  4. Before serving, sprinkle on some more black pepper and just a pinch of salt to bring the flavours all together. Mix well and transfer over to bowl. Serves 4 as side (or makes 2 generous servings if you’re an mushroom addict like me! :))

Other types of mushrooms will also work well in this dish – I’m trying shitake and king oyster mushrooms next time!

Roasted mushrooms make a simple, delightful and healthy side dish. Without using calorie-dense ingredients like heavy cream or butter, this recipe utilizes herbs and spices to jazz up the flavour of the mushrooms. Light and delicious!

So what’s so great about mushrooms?

They are a great source of selenium and B vitamins. Selenium helps to reduce the level of damaging free radicals in our body by keeping our antioxidant system working properly. It can play a role in reducing the amount of cancer-causing toxins and repairing DNA. Adequate intakes of selenium has been associated with reduced cancer risks. On the other hand, B vitamins are vital co-factors in nutrient metabolism. When there is low levels of B vitamins, the metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins will be compromised, leading to suboptimal health status, exposing you to a wide array of possible health problems, including anemia, depression, weakened immune system, etc.

For more in-depth information, visit World’s Healthiest Foods’s page on Crimini mushrooms.

Do you like mushrooms? How do you like to enjoy them?

Salad of Lost Jewels with Sweet Chili Dressing

A simple and delicious sweet chili dressing makes this salad taste amazing!

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This is a very simple recipe that I put together for a light lunch. It is perfect for times when you want to enjoy healthy food that takes little time to prepare. All you need to do is just takes whatever veggies what you have in your fridge or pantry and whip up some dressing. Putting together this salad probably took no more than 10 minutes. (Eating it will probably take even less ;))

The dressing is slightly sweet, balanced out with a splash of fish sauce and lemon juice. Quite refreshing and has a slight hint of Thai flavour. I highly recommend adding in cilantro; it really greatly boosts the flavour!

Salad of Lost Jewels with Sweet Chili Dressing

Serves 1 – 2 (depending on how much veggies you want to have~)

What you’ll need…

  • 1/4 cup pomegranate
  • 1/2 cucumber, deseeded and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 1/2 avocado, diced into small chunks
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, plus extra for garnish

For thedressing:

  • 2 tablespoon sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 drop soy sauce
  • A drizzle of sesame oil
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Dice half an avocado into small chunks. Add in lemon juice and set aside.
  2. Peel and slice cucumber into very thin strips. Sprinkle sliced cucumbers with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and let stand for a few minutes. Squeeze out excess moisture. Set aside.
  3. Combine sweet chili sauce, fish sauce, water, soy sauce and sesame oil in a small and mix well. Stir in cilantro.
  4. In a large bowl, toss together cucumbers, corn and avocado. Pour dressing over salad and mix well.
  5. Sprinkle in pomegranate (here’s a simple guide on how to open pomegranate). Add garnish. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature or cooled.

I intentionally made this salad meatless, but you can definitely add in some meat (chicken or seafood perhaps?). Also try tossing in a handful of nuts or some feta cheese to top it off! Use this recipe as a basis and play with it!

Salad of Lost Jewels with Sweet Chili Dressing

Healthy and Delicious!

Thai Pasta Salad -- the perfect light and healthy lunch option for a lazy and relaxing Saturday afternoon!

Thai Pasta Salad -- the perfect light and healthy lunch option for a lazy and relaxing Saturday afternoon!

Photo by Stephanie Chung

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I’m constantly on the lookout for new ways to enjoy pasta. A few days ago I came across Casual Kitchen and found this amazing Thai Pasta Salad. It takes only a few minutes to put together and the flavour is so light and refreshing, perfect for a lazy and relaxing Saturday lunch!

The recipe itself is already a healthy and well-balanced lunch option. But to make it even more nutritious, I decided to use whole wheat spaghetti to boost the fiber content and also added in more vegetables and skipped out on the meat (I’m trying to cut down my meat consumption :))

As for the dressing, I followed the instructions precisely and it turned out really tasty (only a tad bit more sour than I would have liked, so I’ll probably use less lemon juice next time around).

Note: The original recipe made clear that the cilantro is an essential part of the salad — I totally agree! It really enhances the dressing’s flavour and really pulls the dish together. (Don’t even think about skipping cilantro, it’s a must!)

Thai Pasta Salad

You will need:

  • 2cup broccoli, cut into mini florets
  • 1 cup sweet peppers, diced
  • 1 cup onions, diced
  • 1/2 – 1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 4-6 oz whole wheat spaghetti

To make the dressing…

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp hot chili sauce
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper


  • Cook pasta according to package instructions. During the last minute, add in the broccoli.
  • In the meantime, you can cook the vegetables and prepare the dressing.
  • Heat olive oil in small non-stick skillet, sauté onions until slightly soften. Add in garlic and continue to sauté until fragrant. add in sweet peppers and cook until slightly softened. Remove from heat, add in remaining ingredients to finish making the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • When the pasta and broccoli is ready, add them to the skillet and stir well. Stir in cilantro leaves.
  • Served at room temperature or chilled. Serves 2 (big generous servings, loaded with veggies!)

I really enjoyed the Oriental flavour of the dressing. I highly recommend adding in broccoli into the salad as it really soaks up the dressing!

For next time, I’m planning to add in a difference mix of vegetables and substituting rice noodles or vermicelli for the pasta. Yummy!

Thai Pasta Salad on Foodista

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


  • 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)


  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!