Thursday, February 21, 2008

Asian Style Corn Soup

I love to eat soup all year long, but in the winter it is something I eat almost every day. Here is a soup that is easy (don't let the ingredients scare you) and has a bit of an exotic flavor. I find it very satisfying. It is a good soup to curb your appetite before a large dinner or to help you make it to the next meal.

4 ears corn (or 1 lb of frozen)
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
4 cups water
2 cups vegetable broth
12 sprigs cilantro
5 (1/8-inch-thick) slices peeled fresh ginger
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and quartered
1 to 2 fresh lemongrass stalks, including bulb end, smashed and coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon thai fish sauce or soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

Thinly sliced lime (optional)
Thinly sliced jalapeño pepper (optional)
  1. Cut corn kernels from ears of corn; set aside. Reserve cobs if using fresh corn.
  2. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Cut each cob (if using) into 3 pieces. Add cobs, 4 cups water, and next 6 ingredients (through garlic) to pan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes.
  3. Strain broth through a colander into a bowl; discard solids. Add corn kernels, juice, fish or soy sauce and salt to broth; stir to blend. Return soup to pan; simmer 5 minutes or until hot.
  4. Garnish with lime and jalapeño slices, if desired.

If a thicker soup is desired, puree half of the soup (the corn) in a blender before serving.

Don't Drink Your Calories in Juice - Eat Citrus!

Winter is Citrus time...so go out and get some! Citrus, even though it is winter fruit, taste like sunshine. You can drink orange or grapefruit juice, but then all you get is water, sugar and some vitamins. If you actually eat the fruit you get all the fiber and it will fill you up much longer than the juice!

Here's some ways to enjoy the fruit:

1. Cut a few oranges into 8 wedges and throw them into a bowl in the fridge or into a baggy. Then just snack on the wedges during the day.

2. Get yourself a grapefruit knife. Cut your grapefruit in half (Indian River is the best grapefruit). Section the fruit with the knife. Drizzle 1 tsp of honey on each half. Place under the broiler a few minutes until it is hot and bubbling.
This makes a good breakfast treat or even a nice dessert.

3. Make some Sicilian orange salad. Cut the peel off an orange. Cut the orange flesh into slices or chuncks. Then season the orange with salt and fresh pepper. Drizzle with 1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil. Even kids like this salad. It can be served on a bed of lettuce if you want to dress it up.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Beware of these words on the menu!

Certain words on any menu indicate high fat or hidden calories. Knowing these words can help you avoid these items. When you encounter these words, just pass the food by or ask for substitutions.

  • au gratin - In France this is the shape of an oval baking dish....here in the USA it means layered with cream and cheese
  • battered - Dipped in egg and flour (or beer or milk) and deep fried
  • beurre - French for butter. Usually this will indicate a sauce that has butter as its main ingredient
  • bisque - a soup made with butter, a tomato product and usually cream or milk
  • cream of - cream or milk and flour is used in the thickening
  • dipped - in what?
  • twice-baked - cooked once and then cheese, cream, sour cream, egg yolks or butter added and baked again
  • hollandaise - a sauce made from butter, egg yolk and a bit of lemon juice
    just like mom’s - keep in mind it was mom's cooking that got you into this mess!
  • pan-fried, seared, roasted - all of these mean the dish started out in a pan with oil or butter to develop and outer crust
  • crusted - careful, the crust may be nuts or cheese
  • parmesan - the coating contains parmesan cheese and then is typically deep fried before it is baked off
  • sautéed - pan fried in clarified butter. Clarified butter is butter fat with the milk solids removed.
  • tempura - one of the few Japanese foods that is deep fried in a light (oil absorbing) batter

All of these might be temptations and may sound appealing. But look elsewhere on the menu for healthy and satisfying options.