Saturday, March 30, 2013

Tom Kha Gai

This soup comes together amazingly fast, so it is great for a weekend lunch. The dish is very well balanced from the richness of the coconut milk, the saltiness of the fish sauce, and the tartness of the lime. Kaffir lime leaves can be difficult to the find. If you can't find them, try adding a bit of lime zest. 

2 side dish servings, or add steamed jasmine rice to make it a main course.
190 calories per serving. (without rice)

  • 2 cups chicken stock (low sodium)
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
  • 3-4 one inch pieces of lemon grass, smashed slightly to release the flavor
  • 1 inch cube galangal (thai ginger), sliced thinly (use ginger if you can't find it)
  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 4 ounces chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 5 ounces full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup sliced oyster or straw mushrooms
  • small red Thai chili peppers, slightly crushed (to taste)
  • chopped cilantro, to taste
Heat up the stock, add the lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal, fish sauce, thai chillis and lime juice. Stir thoroughly and bring to a boil. Add the coconut milk, chicken. and mushrooms. Simmer for 2 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Pour into 2 bowls, add the cilantro, and serve.

Variation: The Tom Kha in the picture below has a small amount of Nam Prik Pao added. This is a very common Thai condiment and you should be able to find it in your Asian grocery store. It is a sweet, roasted chili paste in soybean oil, and is the main flavor component of Tom Yum soup. It's a nice way to spike up the flavor of your Tom Kha. Many American Thai restaurants serve it this way, but is not exactly traditional.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thai Green Chicken Curry

I made this recipe once with lite coconut milk and that was a mistake. You really need the richness of regular coconut milk in this sauce. Combining that richness with the lime juice, Thai basil, and the complexity of the green curry paste is an unbeatable combination. If you can afford the calories, add more rice to soak up the yummy sauce!

2 servings. 485 calories each, when served with 1 cup of cooked brown rice

  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1/3 cup sliced shallots or red onion
  • 2 teaspoons green curry paste
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1 chicken breast, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons Thai basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and curry paste; stir until the shallots soften, about 2 minutes.

Add the chicken and stir fry briefly until slightly browned (not cooked through), add the red pepper.

Stir in the coconut milk and fish sauce and bring to a boil. Stir to combine and cook for a few minutes, just until chicken is cooked through.

Sir in the chopped basil and lime juice. Serve over plenty of rice to soak up the delicious sauce!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Cleanse: Last Day!

Today is the last day of my 14-day cleanse! The food re-introduction phase is going well, with no notable reactions so far. I already know from previous experience that too much dairy or wheat will cause me problems, but in moderate amounts, apparently I'm fine.

Dr. Turner recommends adding an informal day 15 and 16 to re-introduce beef and pork and I plan on doing that. Now that I was finally able to eat some wheat today, I'm not feeling quite so desperate.

My final weight loss for the 2 week period was 5 pounds, which leaves me only 2 pounds from my goal. I had put on 15 pounds between Halloween and New Year's this year. I took most of that off before starting the cleanse, but I credit the cleanse with getting me through the natural plateau you always seem to hit after losing 10 pounds. Next year I'm hoping to mitigate the holiday gain to less than 10 pounds.

Although it was tough at times, I'm really glad I did it. I'm am feeling really good, energetic and healthy. So if you're considering whether or not try a Cleanse, I'd recommend giving it a go. There are lots of different plans to choose from, if Dr. Turner's approach is not for you. My only suggestions would be:

  • Do your research! Search the internet for others who have completed the plan and see what their results were like.
  • Stay away from anything too extreme, such as eating the same food for days on end, or having to get all your nutritional needs from supplements.
  • Check for plans developed by a medical professional, or at the very least endorsed by one.
  • Be wary of outrageous claims. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • If you have any medical issues, check in with your doctor before you start.
Good luck and thanks for reading!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Cleanse:Day 10

Finally my 14 day cleanse is winding down....I'm just finishing day 10!

Today I've been craving bread. A nice warm, crusty loaf of Italian bread just out of the oven, slathered with butter.....*drool*. Okay, back to reality.

Tomorrow starts the final stage of my cleanse, re-introducing foods back to my diet and checking for a reaction:

  • Day 11: Rye
  • Day 12: Dairy
  • Day 13: Cheese
  • Day 14: Wheat
After eating the re-introduced item, you check for reactions such as stomach upset, gas, fatigue, or even sinus congestion. This can indicate a food that you are sensitive to and may want to limit in your regular diet. Dr. Turner also suggests gradually adding beef and pork on days 15 and 16.

Since I started the cleanse I've lost a total of 3.5 pounds. I have also noticed increased energy, especially while exercising. Considering the time change last weekend to "Spring ahead", I find this especially notable.

Tonight for dinner I made a yummy Thai Green Chicken Curry. Look for that recipe in a future blog post!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Cleanse: Day 4

Today is day 4 of my 14 day cleanse from Dr. Natasha Turner. So far, I've lost 2 pounds and am feeling healthy and fit. I'm starting to get some pretty intense food cravings, though. Mostly for sugar and red meat. Fast food commercials on TV are a real killer!

My big find for this week was brown rice pasta. This pasta has three ingredients: brown rice, brown rice bran, and water. The calories are about the same as regular pasta, 200 calories for a 2 oz. serving. So far I've used them in my recipe for Ja Jang Myun, and they worked great. Although they are somewhat lighter than regular wheat noodles, the texture is very similar. I'm not sure what, if any, flavor they might have as the sauce for the Ja Jang Myun is pretty strong.

In order to adjust the Ja Jang Myun recipe for the cleanse, I substituted chicken for the pork, omitted the sugar, and used tapioca starch as a thickener, rather than corn starch. I found very little difference in the taste so it was definitely a win.

Tonight for dinner I made beer can chicken in my smoker.

This is the chicken shortly after it went into the smoker. There is a small reservoir (instead of a beer can) in the center of the pan that holds about 1/2 of a beer, and I added some lemon, rosemary and a little thyme. The mixture steams inside the chicken while it cooks. I used a mixture of pecan and cherry wood, and smoked it at about 275 degrees for a hour and fifteen minutes. The chicken was so moist and delicious I probably ate way too much of it!

So the cleanse is still going well, albeit more difficult. I'll be looking forward to this Wednesday when I hit the halfway mark!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cleanse: Day 1

Today, I started a 14-day Detox/cleanse as outlined by Dr. Natasha Turner in the book The Hormone Diet. (who made a recent appearance on the Dr. Oz show) Dr. Turner's cleanse, similar to others, has you cut out foods that are difficult to digest and/or cause systemic imbalances. At the same time you take various supplements to help flush out toxins and bring your body back into balance. At the end you should not only feel better, but your metabolism should be humming along at top speed, making weight loss come easier.

Dr. Turner's book also contains a lengthy quiz to find out if you have any hormones that are out of whack, and suggests additional supplements you can add to help bring those back into balance.

The important thing for me when considering this cleanse is that I still get to eat actual food. Knowing myself and how much I love to eat, drinking lemonade for days on end is not for me!

These are the supplements I'm taking. They include:

  • Probiotics - the same good for you bacteria that's found in yogurt
  • Liver cleanse - herbs to help flush toxins out of the liver
  • Clear fiber - helps to flush the newly released toxins from the body
  • Omega-3 supplements: I always thought fish oil was just good for your heart, but it turns out it's good for your digestion too
  • Whey isolate protein powder - a protein supplement helps with maintaining muscle
This morning I started my day with a liver cleanse and probiotic supplement, followed by a breakfast smoothie. I've been making breakfast smoothies for years, but had to make a slight modification to remove the dairy. 
  • 1/8 cup walnuts
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 banana
  • 1 scoop whey protein isolate powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
Mid-morning snack: an apple and a Simply protein bar

For lunch I had soba noodles, with a sesame/soy/ginger/lime dressing with cauliflower and sliced chicken.

Mid-afternoon snack: apple and another protein bar

Dinner: sauted some garlic and thai chili in a little canola oil, added cauliflower and potato, then scrambled in a couple of eggs. With dinner I took my Omega-3 supplement.

Before bed, I'll take my fiber supplement and another probiotic.

So far, I'm feeling highly motivated and ready to keep going! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my resolve will continue.