How are ya today? I hope your morning is going just splendidly so far! Yesterday was packed with new things (all food items)! Get ready for a longer-than-usual run-down:
1. New Recipe of the Week! Bulgur Shrimp and Corn Risotto. I’m particularly excited to share this one with you because it is pretty spectacular! Most risottos I’ve come across contain cheese, and although this one does not, it’s still super tasty. Mine looked a little something like this:
Nom nom nom. Let me know if you think the same!
2. A new grain: Steel Cut Oats! Yesterday I asked you guys to give me your guesses as to what my mystery grain was, and Lynn and Bella correctly guessed that they were steel cut oats.
On Saturday I wrote a post about how I like to make my microwaved protein-packed oats, but I’ve never tried the stovetop-cooked variety. I’ve heard people rave (including Oprah) about how wonderful steel cut oats are, so I figured they’d be an excellent thing to try for breakfast.
Before we get into my steel cut experience, you may be wondering what the difference is between these and the oats you’re probably used to eating for breakfast. Steel cut oats are unrolled oats that have been cut into pieces. They’re much more coarse and remain chewy even after being soaked in water. They’re also much lower in glycemic index than instant oatmeal, which means that your insulin levels won’t spike as much after eating them. Like other oat types, they are high in manganese, phosphorous, selenium, protein, and vitamin B1. When I was learning about steel cut oats, I came across a few different sets of nutrition stats, but the average brand looked something like this (for 1/4 cup of dry oats):
According to one of the results in my Google search, all you need to do is heat them in a small pot for 30 mins with a 2:1 ratio of water to oats. Fair enough, I thought. One thing I’m not so good at is paying attention to pots on the stove, and as the oats were cooking, I was getting ready for class. As you probably predicted, things got a little dry in the pot and there was a very near burnage incident! I’m not quite sure what sort of steel-cut oats the person that wrote my instructions was cooking, but mine certainly required more than half a cup of water!! It was more like a 4:1 ratio – 1/4 cup steel cut oats and just over a cup of water. (I really wish I’d referred to nutritionist Leslie Beck‘s website prior to cooking breakfast, because she provides this much more accurate quantity!) I rescued my precious grains just in time and the final result was this:
Before taking them off the stove, I added a little stevia and cinnamon. They were enjoyed with a few frozen bloobies on top (which is what I used to call blueberries when I was little), as well as a bowl of vanilla Greek yogurt and diced strawberries.
Although this variety of oats didn’t produce quite as large of a portion as my usual oats, I still quite enjoyed the slightly chewier texture. Stay tuned – I plan to make an overnight-oats version of these soon!
3, 4, 5, and 6: A bunch of new veggies in a new recipe: Alright, this is where the majority of the newness happened! This new recipe was inspired by a reader’s request for a chayote squash recipe. In case you’re not familiar with it, chayote squash looks like this:
Isn’t it cute? It sort of reminds me of a pear, and is similar in density and weight. The recipe I chose (which came from Epicurious.com) was for an Asian soup. However, chayote squash wasn’t the only odd ingredient involved. I also tried:
Using all of these funny things, as well as a few other ingredients, I made Lemongrass Chicken Soup with Chayote Squash. (The original version didn’t contain chicken – the link is in my recipe). I started by making the stock, which contained vegetable broth, lime zest, lemongrass, fresh ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper. The recipe called for the zest of half of a lime, but I didn’t really have the patience for this. Since all of the solids were to be trained out eventually, I figured, “why not just chuck 1/2 a lime in?” This is exactly what happened.
The chayote squash wasn’t too difficult to find – I’ve seen it at both Food Basics and Sobeys. It was a light green colour inside and out, and had a pretty bland taste when I sampled a bit of it raw.
When the soup was ready (and this didn’t take that long – only about 20 mins total including veggie prep time), it looked like this:
The verdict? Not bad at all! The stock had a very unique flavour that I’m pretty sure was due to the lemongrass and fresh ginger. Normally I’d just cook with ground ginger, but in reading a few articles online, I learned that the flavours are very different. (FYI – apparently fresh ginger can be frozen, so if you’re not planning to use it all at once, you don’t have to worry about any waste.) As far as soup making goes, this one was pretty easy.
7. A new beverage: As I’ve mentioned before, Diet Pepsi is still something that occasionally, I’ve just got to have. As a child, I absolutely hated pop (or “bubbledrink” as I called it), and I still don’t consider myself much of a pop drinker. However, sometimes I get a little craving for it, and DP is typically what I reach for. The problem with this is that, like many other carbonated drinks, it contains aspartame. I’ve been trying to wipe this nasty beast out of my diet because I’m pretty sure it can’t be good for my bod, and the new bevvy that I sampled yesterday is a good solution to this problem:
This is Zevia, a “100% natural stevia-sweetened soda”. I learned about it a few weeks ago from Brandi, one of my lovely blog readers. Mine was black cherry flavoured, and it was absolutely delicious! In the past, the stevia-sweetened products I’ve experienced seem to have a metallic aftertaste, but there was no signs of metal here – well apart from the aluminum can, but I’m ok with that. Zevia contains zero net carbs, calories, and sugar, and claims to have no artificial ingredients. The label says:
Triple filtered carbonated water, erythritol (a natural sugar alcohol), citric acid, stevia, natural flavours, cherry essence, clove leaf oil, and cassia oil. NO caffeine.
Not bad hey? If I really did have a pop addiction, I think I’d be cool with drinking this instead.
8. Another new veggie: Jicama!!! This was another reader request that I meant to try next week, but didn’t have time to find. I didn’t realize how hard I was going to have to look for it! On Monday I talked about how I’d been out searching for a mystery ingredient, and this is what I was talking about. My search involved 4 grocery stores, 1 health food store, and 3 phone calls. In the end I managed to track it down at David’s Gourmet, and it was much bigger than I envisioned!
So, what is jicama? Jicama (which is pronounced as hick-e-mah) is also known as a Mexican potato or turnip, and grows on a vine. It can be eaten raw (for example, in salads), or cooked in things like soups with loads of spices. According to good old Wikipedia, the part people eat is actually the root, and the remainder of the plant contains a toxin that is super poisonous. It contains about 85-90% water (hence it’s taste isn’t overly intense), and is a source of dietary fiber and Vitamin C. Jicama is also low in cholesterol, sodium, and saturated fat. Oh, and it has a pretty cool name if you ask me.
First, I tried it raw in a salad monster:
It was ok – not overly flavourful though. The texture sort of reminded me of an apple that wasn’t very sweet, but once I got a little balsamic dressing on it, it added a tasty crunch factor to the salad. I also had it with some Cilantro Hummus as an afternoon snack, and again at dinner in a new recipe. Speaking of dinner….
9. A new vegetarian recipe: Black Bean & Corn Salad with Jicama was last night’s meal.
This is enough for 2 servings, but each individual portion was about a cup and a half. I think in the future it would be more appropriate for a lunch, but I was in the mood for a lighter dinner and it hit the spot (I may have added some bits of chicken to it, but it was definitely nice on its own too!)
That is all I have! I am off to class to make a group presentation, but I’ll leave you with my questions for today:
- Did you try anything new yesterday?
- What should I try next week? (If you’re new to my blog and would like to see what past Try Something New Tuesdays have looked like, click on the tab at the top of this page.)
- Are you/were you ever a big pop drinker? If you gave it up, what were your reasons for doing so and did you find it difficult?