Sesame Bok Choy Salad

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This is my new favorite salad. Baby bok choy is a delightful vegetable: crunchy and slightly bitter, with both greens and a cabbage-like stalk. I’ve been using it instead of onion in some recipes, but now that I know how good it is raw, I’ll be experimenting with other flavors of dressing.

Baby bok choy is more perishable than cabbage, so I don’t recommend dressing this salad and leaving it in the fridge overnight. It will keep for a few hours, though, so it’s a good option for a party appetizer or potluck; just make a double batch. Add the dressing right before you serve it, and it will stay crunchy for several hours. If you want to save some for the next day, don’t add any dressing until then.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 tsp honey, put in the microwave for 5 seconds
  • 1 1/2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce (gluten-free if desired)
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp grated ginger
  • large pinch of onion powder
  • 5 heads baby bok choy, rinsed, dried, and thinly sliced
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • 2 tbsp toasted sliced almonds
  • 1 tbsp cilantro leaves

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a small bowl, stir the honey, soy sauce, vinegar, oils, ginger, and onion powder until it forms a uniform dressing. Microwave for a few seconds if the honey isn’t combining easily. IMG_5506
  2. Pour the vinaigrette over the bok choy and carrot. Add the cilantro and toss well to coat the salad in dressing. Top with the toasted almonds and serve.

Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as a main course. Active and total time 15 minutes. Adapted from http://thecozyapron.com/cozy-cameo-pass-the-bok-choy-greens-and-my-skinny-jeans-please/

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Zucchini-Almond Snack Bites

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I found this recipe while on the hunt for a no-bake way to use up some old zucchini. The combination of zucchini and cinnamon sounds weird, and I had reservations about these balls when I started to put them together. But they are pleasant and are such an easy office snack.

I also was hesitant to feature these on the blog because a heartburn-friendly diet is supposed to be low in fat. A good portion of this recipe is almond butter, so it’s not low in fat by any standards. For me, reducing acid in the diet is much more effective at stopping GERD than is avoiding fat—but see what works for you. I can eat one of two of these (with a banana to round out the snack) without seeing side effects.

These bites are eaten cold and stay very moist. The texture is a cross between muffins and ice cream. The down side to this recipe is that it uses a good amount of almond butter, which is expensive—but the cost is worth it if it stops me from eating processed food from the vending machine.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups oats (gluten free if desired)
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 tbsp black sesame seeds
  • cooking spray
  • scant 3/4 cup almond butter
  • 2 tbsp + 1 tsp honey or brown rice syrup
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup grated zucchini, packed

DIRECTIONS

  1. Mix the oats, almonds, and sesame seeds in a bowl.
  2. Spray a 1/4 cup measuring cup with cooking spray, and use it to measure the almond butter. Stir the almond butter, honey, and cinnamon into the oat mixture until well combined. IMG_5370
  3. Hold the grated zucchini over a small plate and squeeze out the excess liquid. Discard the liquid and use a paper towel to blot the zucchini dry. Add it to the oat mixture and stir well. IMG_5372
  4. Mound the mixture into the middle of the bowl, and use a spatula to make a cross on it, separating it into quadrants. Use your fingers to roll each quadrant of the mixture into 5 balls.
  5. Place the balls on a baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 1 week.

Makes 20. Adapted from http://www.cookincanuck.com/2013/08/no-bake-zucchini-bread-granola-bites-recipe-gluten-free-vegan/

Velvet Carrot Soup

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This soup is so rich in texture, and with hardly any fat. It’s the type of soup you have to scrape out of the pot. The trick is to blend it for a long time, allowing the immersion blender to whip water and air into the carrot mush. I couldn’t believe the textural transformation that took place after about a minute of blending.

I made this soup using Trader Joe’s frozen Parisian carrots. These carrot balls are naturally round and quite cute! I don’t often buy frozen vegetables, and after these sat in my freezer for months, I knew I would never get around to roasting them. When used in the soup, I couldn’t tell the difference between fresh and frozen.

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The carrot flavor is strong and bright in this dish, and the miso adds an interesting backdrop without tasting definitively Japanese. If you want to get fancy, either sesame oil or lemon oil can act as the final flourish. Sesame oil gives the soup a sushi-restaurant feel. Alternatively, lemon oil feels fresh and springy. Either way, this is a warm, creamy bowl of goodness.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 lb frozen carrots
  • 1 cup baby bok choy, sliced
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp sesame oil or lemon oil (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat the olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and bok choy, and saute for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Add the onion powder, coriander, broth, and ginger. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until the carrots are fork-tender. IMG_5045
  3. Remove the soup from the heat and puree with an immersion blender. Return the soup to low heat.
  4. Heat half a cup of water in the microwave for 1 minute, and stir in the miso until smooth. Add the miso mixture to the soup and blend until completely incorporated, adding another one-fourth to one-half cup of water to reach your desired consistency. Allow the soup to warm in the pot for a few minutes. IMG_5046
  5. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each with a half-teaspoon drizzle of sesame or lemon oil.

Serves 3. Active time 30 minutes; total time 50 minutes. Adapted from http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2012/01/carrot-soup-with-miso-and-sesame/

Salad with Ginger Dressing & Kale Chips

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With its prohibition of citrus and strict limits on vinegar and oil, the low-acid diet does not make it easy to eat salad. Most of the salads I make use quinoa as a base instead of lettuce. To dress a green salad lightly and still enjoy it, you need to add something that keeps the palate interested.

Two textures made this salad a success: kale chips and ginger. The baked kale adds a salty, bitter crunch, while the grated ginger makes the dressing both thick and spicy. If you don’t feel like making kale chips, I suggest using toasted almonds as an alternative (but less interesting) crunchy topper.

Kale chips are easy to make. This was my first time trying it because in the past I’ve been too lazy to go through the effort of drying the kale. These leaves weren’t totally dry, so some of the chips stayed green instead of turning brown. I was happy to discover that the green chips were just as crunchy as the browned ones.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 4 to 5 cups packed kale leaves
  • olive oil spray
  • sea salt
  • 2 cups baby spinach/arugula mix
  • 1/2 cup chopped snow peas or snap peas
  • 1/2 cup chopped red pepper
  • handful of cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce (gluten-free if desired)
  • 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • pinch of onion powder

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the kale from the stems and tear it into bite-sized pieces. Wash and dry well in a salad spinner. Then dry the leaves completely on a towel.
  2. Arrange the kale in a single layer on 2 large baking sheets, and coat with olive oil spray. Sprinkle with sea salt to taste and cook for 10 to 14 minutes. Remove from the oven when some of the pieces are very brown, even if some of the other pieces are still green.
  3. While the kale is baking, add greens, peas, pepper, and cilantro to a large bowl.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, vinegar, oil, honey, ginger, and onion powder. Stir well. IMG_5355
  5. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss well to coat. Arrange the salad on a large plate.
  6. When the kale chips are done, sprinkle a few on top of the salad and serve.
  7. Store extra kale chips at room temperature.
Serves 1. Active time 15 minutes; total time 20 minutes.

Vegetarian Fried Rice

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I’ve never walked away from a take-out Chinese meal feeling good, so I had given up this type of food long before heartburn became an issue. This narrows my take-out options, though, and I do miss the texture of fried rice. This at-home version really hits the spot. There’s definitely something missing, compared to the restaurant version—but I suspect that something is pork fat and MSG.

This is a fun dish to make. Scrambling the egg in the skillet makes me feel like a professional cook, and it’s cool how quickly the stir-fry comes together. To prepare for the speedy cooking time, be sure to prep all ingredients and tools before you put anything in the pan. Also, using cold rice is imperative for the texture. I used a package of precooked rice from Trader Joe’s that I had put in the fridge a few hours ahead of time.

Once you get the gist of this stir-fry method, you can substitute the ingredients for variety. Peas are traditional in fried rice, but I’ve always hated them, so I used spinach instead. Pea pods, chopped eggplant, baby corn, mushrooms, and any type of meat would also be great in here. I’ll post again if I come across a particularly compelling variation.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups grated carrot
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 cups cold cooked brown rice
  • 3/4 cup frozen edamame (no pods), thawed
  • 2 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 2 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce (gluten-free if desired)
  • 2 eggs + 1 egg white
  • 3 drops light soy sauce (gluten-free if desired)
  • 3 drops sesame oil
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped baby spinach (measured after chopping)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat the canola oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick skillet. Add carrots and onion powder and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  2. Add rice, thawed edamame, and ginger, and stir-fry for 3 minutes, breaking up the rice with a spatula. Add the soy sauce and stir well.
  3. In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the drops of soy sauce and sesame oil.
  4. Push the rice mixture to the sides of the pan to leave a hole in the middle. Add the eggs and scramble, stirring often and scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan, for about 1 minute. IMG_5000
  5. Mix the eggs into the rest of the dish. Then stir in the vinegar, sesame oil, and spinach.
  6. Turn off heat and stir for a minute to wilt the greens a bit; add cilantro and serve.

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