Saturday, January 29, 2011

Light Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf

The other day, I stepped out of the house on my daily stroll to school when I was hit with a spectacular sight—a winter wonderland. I realized how quiet and slow the world was, and how, for once, Americans were not rushing from place to place, but rather, enjoying the time in between. Of course, the reason they were so slow was because of the danger created by the snow, but I like to think that it was to finally appreciate the beauty of the world at 7 in the morning, especially when it was peppered with flakes of glitter.

Winter is a period of stagnation, a time where you can finally cut yourself some slack for indulging in rich delights. When I think of winter baking, I think of hot pies, dense cakes, and rich custards, which was why I was so surprised to find fresh Meyer lemons at my local supermarket. For some reason, lemons always seemed like a summer fruit to me, but apparently, winter is the time that they flourish. What a nice flavor lemons provide to help liven up the winter season!

I have to admit, I keep a huge bottle of lemon juice in my fridge, and yes, I use it. But after making this lemon loaf from fresh lemons, I doubt I will ever go back to that bottle. The intensity of the juice from fresh lemons is a thousand times stronger and finer than that which has been squeezed for months, and let’s face it, which plastic bottle can you get biting lemon zest from?

The aroma that erupts from the kitchen while this loaf is baking makes for a revitalizing and delicious air freshener. And what’s better, after your nose becomes satiated, your taste buds get their turn. Now everybody is happy.


1 3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 beaten eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil
lemon zest from one fresh lemon
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp poppy seeds

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a medium sized bowl, shift together the flour and baking powder. Make a well in the center and set aside.
3. Cream oil and sugar, then add eggs, milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Mix in the poppy seeds.
4. Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
5. In a small bowl, stir one tablespoon lemon juice and one tablespoon sugar together. As soon as the loaf comes out of the oven, brush this mixture on top.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


The exciting thing about cooking is that there is always something you’ve never tried. And when you try it, you regret not knowing such a delicacy existed for all those years. You feel cheated, but at the same time thrilled at the thought of so many more foods for you to discover. Some of the discoveries I’ve made in the last two years include pretzels, applesauce, latkes, cheese steaks and bicycle wheel sized pizzas just to name a few—basically just a whole bunch of US specialties. Believe it or not, Juicy Juice came up in Chemistry class the other day and I had no idea what the teacher was talking about. But I guess you Americans have missed out a lot too. For example, have you tried a Pavlova? How about Hokey Pokey ice cream? Or Anzac biscuits? I didn’t think so.

I fatefully stumbled upon this recipe for Jambalaya from Emeril Lagasse the other day. At first I thought that it was Brazilian or something of the like, but after some Wikipedia-ing I found that it’s actually a Creole dish. The picture looked alluring enough and it was exactly the kind of dish I needed in the middle of winter. What other incentive did I need to try it out?

What I like a lot about this dish is how flexible you can be with the ingredients. Everything goes into a big pot and you can easily adjust the flavorings and even the major ingredients. Sometimes, simple substitutions can dramatically increase the nutrient value of a dish. I used brown rice in place of white rice for some added fiber, B vitamins and Iron. In addition, I added green beans for extra vitamins and minerals, and replaced the sausage with vegan sausage to decrease the total amount of fat. A generous bowl of this hearty meal gets you servings of carbs, vegetables, and protein.

Not to mention warmth, satisfaction, and a healthy dose of happiness.


12 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined
4 ounces chicken, diced
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 cup chopped tomatoes
3 bay leaves
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp hot sauce
3/4 cup brown rice
3 cups chicken stock
5 ounces vegan sausage (or whatever you prefer), sliced
1 cup green beans
Salt and pepper


1. In a bowl combine shrimp, chicken and the next five ingredients. Mix well.
2. In a large saucepan, heat oil over high heat with onion, garlic, and celery for 3 minutes.
3. Add tomatoes, bay leaves, Worcestershire and hot sauces. Stir in rice and slowly add chicken stock. Reduce heat to medium and cook until rice absorbs liquid and becomes tender, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes.
4. When rice is just tender, add shrimp and chicken mixture, green beans, and sausage. Cook until meat is done, about 10 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Strawberry and Banana Smoothie

It has come to my attention that today is National Milk Day. How could I not have known this earlier?! I mean seriously, milk is like one of my most heroed consumable goods. Surely someone could have given me a heads up so that I could’ve prepared for this highly anticipated day. Nonetheless, Happy Milk Day everyone! I hope that you all guzzled down a delicious, nutrient-rich glass of milk today.

Be grateful for milk, because it has actually saved your life before. It’s the one food (it’s a drink I know!) that we’ve been consuming since we were born. If it weren’t for milk, the human population would seize to exist. The Homo sapiens species would be wiped off the epic Encyclopedia of Life, no longer beside Earth’s other 1.8 million species. That means no mommy, no daddy, no you, and certainly no friends. What a sad sad world that would be.

Actually, it’s rather disturbing that we drink cow’s milk. In fact, I think that we’re the only species (apart from maybe cats) that drink milk from another species. I mean it’s not even like we drink apes milk or something of the like. We drink the milk from COWS. Wait. I’m supposed to be encouraging you to drink milk, so let me get on with that…

I’m sure you all know that milk is good for your teeth and bones. It’s probably been drilled into your head after being said a million times by your mother. Well, you should listen to her. One cup of milk provides you with 30% of the daily-recommended amount of calcium, which is proven to help strengthen bones and teeth. Here’s a little fact that your mother probably didn’t tell you. Calcium is the mineral most likely to be deficient in the average American diet. Isn’t that incredible? With delicious milk so widely available, there’s absolutely no excuse not to meet the recommended 1,000 mg calcium per day.

Aside from being an excellent source of calcium, it is also a great source of riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin B12, vitamin A, potassium, and phosphorus. In addition, one cup of fat-free milk provides 8g of protein (that’s the same amount of protein as a jumbo egg, and who gets jumbo eggs anyway?). I like to enjoy a cup of skim milk during breakfast each and every day. Actually, I have to admit that I kinda freakout if I don’t have that glass of milk in the morning. It’s no big deal really.

What would we ever do without milk? My cereal would be dry, my coffee distasteful, and my day ruined. If you aren’t currently heavily engaged in milk drinking, you should get on to that. In fact, you should follow the New Year’s resolution of my friend Diana, which is to drink a cup of milk everyday this year. Remember, a cup of milk a day keeps the dentist way, and it will keep YOU living, smiling, and shining!


½ frozen banana
4 large frozen strawberries
1 cup skim milk


1. Mix all the ingredients in a blender. Pour into a tall glass and enjoy!

Much thanks to Meep for the photo edits.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Lentil Soup

40º F…37º F…32º F… As the average daily temperatures continue to drop, my hopes for a snowstorm continue to rise. Growing up in moderately climated New Zealand (or “Kiwiland” as my some of my American friends like to say), I was not exposed to snow as a child. Maybe my friends here don’t understand the reason for my high-pitched exclamations at tiny bits of ice succumbing to gravity, but it’s just like how I will never understand what’s so great about Charlie Brown.

As a high school student, snow is always so exciting and definitely the highlight of those beginning dark winter months of second semester. Even two inches of snow accumulation may mean a snow day, or at least a two hour delay. There’s just something so satisfying about waking up at 6:30 am, pulling back the curtains, seeing the white blanket covering the earth, and being able to climb back into bed to indulge in another hour or so of deep sleep.

Here is a dish that is sure to warm up your body for those highly anticipated snow days. It’s hot, rich, and oh-so-comforting. One hearty bowl of lentil soup will surely warm you up from bone to epidermis. Lentils are also extremely beneficial for your health. In fact, I’d say that you could survive on them. Seriously. Just one cup of boiled lentils has 16g fiber, 18g protein, and only 1g fat (0g saturated). That’s 63% of your recommended daily intake of fiber right there. With lentils providing that much dietary fiber, there’s absolutely no excuse to not reach that 25g of fiber daily, which so many people don’t. Lentils are also a good source of Iron, Phosphorus, Copper, Folate, and Manganese. Are they just not the superest superfood or what?

According to, there is an 80% chance of snow on Friday. THIS Friday. I have my fingers (and toes) double-crossed. You should too. Our current stock is slowly disappearing and I want a replenishment of that magical white fluff! Please?


1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp oil
2 carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp Italian herbs
1 tsp dried basil
1 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 cups dry lentils
1 tsp ground dried cumin
1 tbsp paprika
8 cups water
½ cup frozen chopped spinach
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp vinegar


1. In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery; cook and stir until onion is tender. Stir in garlic, Italian herbs, and basil; cook for 2 minutes.
2. Stir in lentils, and add water, tomatoes, cumin, and paprika. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for at least 1 hour. When ready to serve stir in spinach, and cook until it wilts. Stir in chopped cilantro, vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Nonfat Gingersnaps

I cannot believe it. Here I am, sitting at my desk, enjoying the very last few hours of 2010. I say this every year, because it occurs to me every year: each year goes by so quickly. We think that we have a whole lifetime filled with hopefully a big handful of years, but with each year zooming by, how long do we really have? We all have mental lists of stuff we want to do in life (bungee off a cliff, go to Antarctica, go to jail...) and we need to do them now when we have time, instead of saving it for later. 2011 is a huge year for me. It’s the year that I graduate from high school, and it’s the year that I dive into my college life.

Every year, my family and I make a big deal to set New Year’s resolutions. Even if they are just little, it feels great to know that there is something you’re going to (hopefully) achieve by the end of the year. Last year, my New Year’s resolution was to not eat chocolate for a whole year. I have to admit, I failed on the very first day. During the morning on the first of January 2010, I was making chocolate milk for my sister when I accidentally licked the spoon after stirring the milk. It was totally unintentional and I felt like such a failure after! But I told myself, why give up just because I failed the first day? So I went through the rest of the year avoiding all food that had cocoa. Now that it is just 2 hours until the New Year, I’m excited to have a big bite of chocolate! I already have a huge supply of chocolate treats waiting for me to dig into.

My sister and I agreed to avoid soda entirely as our New Year’s resolution for next year. It should not be very difficult for me, as I don’t drink soda very often, but I am glad that I am doing it with my sister so that we can encourage each other through the year. In addition, I am pledging to keep up with my daily 5 minute gym routine. This will be more difficult, especially with the start of college, but I know that if I set it as a New Year’s resolution, it will be much easier to achieve.

I decided that a recipe for nonfat gingersnaps was perfect to share on New Year’s Eve. Gingersnaps symbolize what a New Year is all about—they are chewy, aromatic, and 100% satisfying. It doesn’t hurt to state the obvious that they are also fat-free. Whether you make yourself a batch of these cookies or share them around at a New Year’s Eve party, they are sure to please.

Goodbye 2010. You really have been great.
Hey there, 2011! You’re going to be even better.
I can feel it.


1 cup, packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup applesauce
1/6 cup molasses
1/6 cup honey
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground dried ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 cup finely-chopped raisins
additional sugar (about 1/4 cup) mixed with a big pinch of cinnamon for rolling the cookies


1. Sift together the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt.
2. In a large bowl, beat the brown sugar, applesauce, and molasses with an electric hand mixer for five minutes at medium speed.
3. After five minutes, stop the mixer, and add the egg whites. Beat for another minute.
4. With the mixer at its lowest speed, add the dry ingredients until completely incorporated, and mix on medium for one minute.
5. Stir in the chopped raisins. Chill the batter for about 30 minutes in the fridge.
6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
7. Pour ¼ cup sugar and cinnamon in a shallow baking dish. Scoop the cookies into heaped tablespoon-sized balls and coast them in the sugar and cinnamon mixture.
8. Put the cookie mounds onto lined baking sheets, leaving room between them to spread.
9. Bake for 13 minutes, or until the cookies feel just barely set in the center. Remove from oven and cool on wire racks.