Recipe: Chicken Adobo

Chicken adobo with white rice that I cooked last night

Chicken adobo, a classic Filipino dish, consists of chicken simmered in a mixture of vinegar and soy sauce. It is easy to make and reheats well. Perfect for a brown bag lunch, along with a salad. If you do not have a microwave at your workplace, please check the menu on this blog and look up the “Equipment and Gadgets” category. There you will find descriptions of portable heating devices. I would recommend both the Crockpot Lunch Warmer and Hotlogic thermal bag for reheating this dish.

Here’s a recipe that I tried just yesterday. It turned out great!

CHICKEN ADOBO (6 servings)

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed with the side of a knife and peeled
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 skin-on bone-in chicken thighs

1.Place the soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, black peppercorns, and bay leaves in a large saute pan. Place the chicken thighs, skin side down, into the pan. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, and then cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Turn the chicken over, and then cover and simmer for another 10 minutes.

2.Uncover the pan, and then increase the heat to high and return the sauce to a boil. While occasionally turning and basting the chicken, continue boiling the sauce, uncovered, until it is reduced by half and thickens slightly, 5-7 minutes. Serve with steamed white rice.

The site from which I obtained this recipe indicates 332 calories per serving. (Not counting the rice.)

Reference: https://rasamalaysia.com/classic-chicken-adobo-recipe/

Nuts: A Nutritional Powerhouse

The next time that you go to that vending machine for your afternoon cookies, crackers, et al, please consider selecting a bag of nuts. Nuts are nature’s way of providing maximum nutrition in a small package. Filled with protein, minerals, fiber, and healthy oils and fats, nuts provide a nourishing pick-me-up when you feel the need for a snack in between meals.

Below is a list of nuts and the nutrition they provide. Keep in mind that to receive optimal benefits from the fats in this food, it may be better to eat most types of nuts raw. You can obtain raw nuts at your local whole foods store; for example, Sprouts.

In this post, I am giving calorie estimates for raw nuts. Roasted nuts may have additional calories because of oil added in the roasting process.

Almonds. Can be eaten raw or roasted. Almonds are a source of biotin, vitamin E, copper, managanese, vitamin B2 phosphorus, magnesium and molybdenum. One oz. of raw almonds (23 almonds) is approximately 132 calories

Brazil nuts. Can be eaten raw or roasted. Brazil nuts are a source of selenium, which is necessary in regulating the thyroid gland. They are a source of copper, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, thiamine, and vitamin E. One oz. of raw Brazil nuts (6 large nuts) is approximately 187 calories

Cashews. Can be eaten raw or roasted. They are an source of copper, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, and zinc. One oz. of raw cashews (18 whole cashews) is approximately 221 calories.

Hazelnuts (also known as filberts). Can be eaten raw or roasted. They are a source of vitamin E, thiamin, magnesium, copper, and manganese. One oz. of raw hazelnuts (20 kernels) is approximately 176 calories.

Peanuts. Can be eaten roasted or boiled. Strictly speaking, peanuts are a legume and not a nut. They are a source of copper, manganese, vitamin B3, molybdenum, folate, biotin, phosphorus, vitamin E, protein, and vitamin B1. One oz. of raw peanuts (28 whole peanuts) is approximately 207 calories. Consider getting dry roasted peanuts to save on additional fat and calories.

Pumpkin seeds (also known as pepitas). Can be eaten raw or roasted. Pumpkin seeds are a source of manganese, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, zinc, protein, and iron. One oz. of shelled, raw pumpkin seeds is approximately 180 calories.

Sunflower seeds. Can be eaten raw or roasted. Sunflower seeds are a source of vitamin E, copper, vitamin B1, selenium, phosphorus, manganese, vitamin B6, magnesium, folate, and vitamin B3. One oz. of sunflower seeds is approximately 204 calories.

Walnuts. Can be eaten raw or roasted. Walnuts are a source of omega-3 fat, copper, manganese, molybdenum, and biotin. One oz. of walnuts (14 walnut halves) is approximately 196 calories.

References:

  • Healthline.com, “7 Proven Health Benefits of Brazil Nuts,” “7 Ways Hazelnuts Benefit Your Health,” “Raw vs Roasted Nuts: Which Is Healthier?”
  • wh.foods.com, “Almonds,” “Cashews,” “Peanuts,” Pumpkin Seeds,” Sunflower Seeds,” and “Walnuts.”

Lentil and Beet Salad

For those of you who have access to a Trader Joe’s, here’s a nutritious and delicious item that you only have to assemble to enjoy. You will find the ingredients in the produce and cheese section of the store. The dish is great as a vegetarian entrée, or as a side dish for a meat entrée. It’s ideal as a brown bag item.

I should mention that I obtained this recipe from Celine Cossou-Bordes’ excellent book, “Cooking with Trader Joe’s.” (I have substituted low-fat feta for her recommended full-fat goat cheese. Also, bottled vinaigrette to save prep time.) You can buy Coussou-Bordes’ book on amazon.com.

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LENTIL & BEET SALAD (4 Servings)

  • One pkg TJ’s refrigerated Steamed Lentils
  • 6 pearl tomatoes, cut in wedges
  • One pkg TJ’S refrigerated Steamed and Peeled Baby Beets
  • 6 oz. low-fat feta cheese, crumbles
  • 3 oz. bottled vinaigrette dressing
  1. Place lentils in a medium bowl and heat in microwave for 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and beets.
  2. Pour vinaigrette over lentil mixture, stir to combine, then sprinkle with feta cheese crumbles.
  3. Refrigerate.

Sushi Lunch Menu

My goodness…the heat in Southern California just won’t let up! Today alone will be in the 90’s. Surely not a good day to cook.

When the heat is on, I crave a sushi-based menu: Chilled carbs, with a little salt and protein added. Above is a photo of food I packed myself: Vege sushi, fried chicken I bought at the grocery store, and salad from the produce section. I’ve also packed a mixture of soy and wasabi for the sushi, as well as dressing for the salad.

Everything you see here can be bought pre-made, including the sushi; many supermarkets offer this item at the deli section. By the way, there’s a widely held belief that sushi is always made with raw fish. Not true! The main ingredient in sushi is short-grain rice flavored with rice vinegar. Although some sushi dishes include raw and cooked fish, other types of sushi incorporate avocado, pickled vege’s, or other foods into the final product.

I would like to mention that the containers in the photo were purchased at bentology.com. This website offers a variety of bento-style lunch boxes which are quite useful for all kinds of brown bag dishes. In addition, the containers are dishwasher and microwave-safe. The Bentology items are pricier than the Walmart lunch containers I recommended in an earlier post (See my “Gadgets/Equipment” category on this site). However, you might enjoy looking at the selections.

Tea Time

French-style ham sandwich, strawberries, scones, Starbucks iced tea

When I think of “tea time,” what comes to mind are images of elaborately decorated tea pots, delicate tea sandwiches, and tiered services filled with crumpets and scones. Guess what? A tea time style lunch menu is just as accessible as your local market. And very easy to pack.

  • Tea sandwiches. We have a nice French baguette market near our condo. It’s always filled with delectable pastries of all shapes and sizes.

Today, I purchased a French baguette filled with ham, cheese, and Dijon mustard. Only 250 calories for half a sandwich.

  • Sides. Fresh fruit and baked goods are frequently served with sandwiches at a traditional tea. I already had strawberries and scones that I purchased from my local Albertson’s. (Albertson’s scones are a tasty Quickbread that can be heated up in the microwave for 20 seconds. Great by themselves or with a little butter and jam.)
  • Tea. The most important ingredient! Since the weather is still a bit warm, I chose to purchase some iced tea at Starbucks, which was close by the French baguette shop.

The final product was satisfying….and quite easy to pack for a brown bag lunch!

Book Review: “French Women Don’t Get Fat”

Well…of course some of them do! But that’s not really the point. Mireille Guiliano, a vivacious French women, offers in this charming 2005 classic a safe and sane way to enjoy your food while maintaining both weight and health.

A little about the author: At the time of publication, Ms. Guiliano was the CEO of Clicquot, Inc., an American branch of the French champagne maker. A large part of French Women describes her odyssey as a young woman to the United States in the 1960’s as an exchange student. There, she encountered the largess of American eating: Huge portions, unlimited amounts of carb-rich foods, etc. She ended up gaining about 25 lbs. before returning to France. Ms. Guiliano credits her family doctor with getting her back to a reasonable weight by applying time-honored French dietary principles to her daily menu. I will describe some of these later in this post.

But let me be clear: French Women is not a diet book. Instead, it provides an enjoyable education on how to savor and appreciate food instead of just downing it. Here are some eating tips from Guiliano’s book, and I will provide some examples regarding how I have incorporated them into my life. Yes, I’m a real believer in Ms. Guiliano’s lifestyle.

Portion control. Guiliano points out that the word “menu,” which is of French derivation, actually means “little.” She explains that the typical French menu offers small amounts of various items, rather than one large main dish plopped down in the middle of the plate. This approach to food preparation limits calories while providing satiety through variety.

In my July 26th article entitled “Meze: Mediterranean Appetizers for Lunch,” I provided a photograph of a “menu” style meal, using lunch containers one can easily purchase at the local Walmart.

All of the ingredients in this brown bag lunch are easy to obtain, prepare and pack. The portions are not big, but note the variety in color and texture. From upper left clockwise: Stuffed grape leaves, fresh grape tomatoes, pita chips, low-fat cheddar cheese (Trader Joe’s has the best), hummus.

Eat lots of fruits and vegetables and buy seasonally. Buying seasonally will ensure that your produce items will be at the peak of flavor. For example, summer is the best time for peaches, nectarines, and plums. Some of the tastiest apple varieties come out in autumn and winter. Late spring is a great time for cherries and strawberries.

Display your produce on the kitchen counter. If you purchase apples, don’t just throw them into the frig. I tend to forget all about them unless I can see them in front of me. And refrigeration kills flavor. Instead, consider displaying apples, melons, tomatoes, peaches, pears etc. on your kitchen counter in an attractive bowl. It’ll pretty up your kitchen, and you won’t forget to eat what you spent your hard-earned money on.

Apples I purchased yesterday at Trader Joes

Get the best that money can buy. In French Women, Guiliano emphasizes that bread, chocolate, wine and other delightful carbs are part of the French diet. However, she strongly recommends that if you’re going to consume such items, get the highest quality possible and consume small portions. How do I translate this bit of advice to my life? Well, as much as I like chocolate, I can’t tell you the last time I ate a Snicker’s Bar or Hershey’s Bar. Instead, I prefer the pricier dark chocolate brands like Godiva or Ghirardelli; they just taste better. I get the bags of 70+% dark cocoa chocolate packaged in separately wrapped 1 oz. portions. A couple of bites really satisfy me, because the flavor is so intense. So all I need is one square and I’m done.

Ditto for other foods. When I buy salmon, I get the expensive but tasty wild Pacific species. When I buy chicken, I prefer Empire kosher because the flavor and texture is superior to other brands. Yes, I’m spending more money on food….but I eat less of it because the quality and flavor is more satisfying. If you can afford to go this route, do so.

Try alternatives to salt and pepper. For example, take a good look at the fresh herb section of your produce store and experiment a little. I for one love fresh dill. It adds a delicate grassy flavor to microwave steamed fish. I also enjoy it in tomato and squash stew (see recipe for the latter item in my “Recipes” section, entitled “Squash and Tomato Saute.”) And when I roast a weekend chicken, I always stuff it full of fresh rosemary and lemon slices; it adds so much to the flavor.

Sit down when you eat. To Ms. Guiliano, standing while eating is a HUGE no-no. Make a point of honoring your mealtime by sitting down and savoring the food.

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There’s so much more in French Women to talk about, but at this point I would suggest that you purchase the book and enjoy. And I promise that you will. Ms. Guiliano’s writing style is casual, chatty, and fun. French Women Don’t Get Fat can be purchased from amazon.com in hardcover and Kindle format.

A Tasty Rice Snack: Onigiri

Rice balls (onigiri) made with Annie Chun’s Sprouted Brown Rice

It’s mid-August in California, and the temperature has been pretty high. So my appetite runs towards something cool and a little salty. How about some home-made onigiri?

According to Wikipedia, Onigiri (or omusabi) is a rice ball made from white rice which is formed into a triangular or cylindrical shape. It can be filled with pickled plum, salmon, tuna salad, or any other salty or sour ingredient. The dish is eaten at room temperature or cooled. It is ideal as a brown bag side dish.

Onigiri is usually made with top-grade sushi rice. (Please see my post titled, “Let’s Here It For Haiga,” dated March 13, 2019.) However, in this blog I will share a recipe using Annie Chun Sprouted Brown Rice, which can be microwaved. It makes the process much easier for those who don’t have much prep time. You can find Annie Chun rice in the Asian section of your grocery store. You might even find it in the rice/grain/bean section. I bought my last batch at Sprouts Market.

Please see the nutritional data for the sprouted rice below. The product is vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, and contains more protein and fiber than most sushi rice.

I’m going to deviate somewhat from the classic ingredients for this dish in that I will add rice wine vinegar instead of salt. I just think it tastes better.

For additional flavor, I recommend Furikake Shredded Shrimp (Nori ebi) with toasted sesame seed and nori (minced dried seaweed). You can purchase this product at your local Asian grocery store or the Asian section of your supermarket. You can also purchase it on amazon.com using this address: https://www.amazon.com/Seaweed-Shrimp-Furikake-Seasoning-Product/dp/B07NPCK6R3/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=Urashima%2Bfurikake%2Bnori%2Bebi&qid=1566684022&s=gateway&sr=8-3&th=1. If you are vegetarian or vegan, there are meatless furikakes.

Furikake with dried shrimp, nori, and sesame seeds

Finally, you will need two rice molds approximately 5.8 by 3.5 centimeters. You can purchase them from amazon.com using this address: https://www.amazon.com/Sushi-Onigiri-Bento-Press-Maker/dp/B06XBWMCPY/ref=sr_1_44?keywords=onigiri+mold+small&qid=1566681321&s=gateway&sr=8-44.

Small onigiri molds

Here’s the recipe:

ONIGIRI (1 serving)

  • One container Annie Chun Sprouted Brown Rice
  • One tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • One tablespoon furikake
  1. Heat rice in microwave according to directions.
  2. Place cooked rice in a bowl and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Add vinegar and furikake.
  4. Fill two 5.8 cent. x 3.5 cent. rice molds with the rice. Make sure you really pack the rice in. But don’t put so much in that you can’t seal the molds. You will probably have a little rice leftover.
  5. Place sealed molds in refrigerator. *
  6. Serve with soy sauce or soy sauce mixed with wasabi. (You can get tubes of wasabi from the Asian section of your local supermarket. I got mine at Sprouts.)
Onigiri packed in rice molds.

*It is recommended that you consume the rice balls no later than the day after you have made them. Otherwise, the rice will dry out. Also, do not remove the rice balls from the molds until you are ready to eat them. The molds will retain moisture and texture for better mouth feel.

This side dish is good with cold teriyaki chicken, cold teriyaki salmon, or cold breaded chicken fingers. Make sure to pack some of that soy/wasabi sauce!

“Onigiri”  Wikipedia:  The Free Encyclopedia.  Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.  13 August 2019.  Web.  24 August 2019.