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Sushi Bowl

Sushi bowl

While I consider myself an adventurous eater — I’ll try just about anything once — I do not posses that same sense of adventure when it comes to cooking in my own kitchen. More often than not I find myself drawn to “safe” recipes and ingredients; chilis, pesto, pasta, a whole chicken roasted to perfection in my slow cooker. So these simple, sushi-inspired rice bowls made for an exotic weeknight dinner at our house.

While sushi is not exactly exotic by any stretch of the imagination (in Toronto you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting an all-you-can-eat sushi joint or three), these are simply not flavours I’ve ever been drawn to when cooking. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the Asian flavour profile, quite the opposite — but if I’m honest, it probably has more to do with fear. I’m comfortable with pasta and cheese and chicken, so that’s what I find myself cooking time and again.

I bought Super Natural Cooking on a whim. Desperate to find some new kitchen inspiration, I decided to pick-up the Tartine Bread cookbook, thinking I could be inspired by bread. If I wasn’t inspired by the staff of life, I was done for. On my way to the cash I spotted Super Natural Cooking out of the corner of my eye, and when I picked it up the pages fell open to the Sushi Bowl recipe. As it turned out, nori and brown rice vinegar turned out to be just the inspiration I needed. I’ve made this meal way more times than I’ve made bread so far (it’s about 3-0, to date).

These bowls make for a simple, light weeknight dinner and are equally delicious cold from the office fridge the next day. While slicing the avocado and tofu as I have here made for a beautiful photograph, I’ve found that bite-sized chunks are actually easier to eat and enjoy.

Sushi Bowl
Adapted from Super Natural Cooking
Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 cups short-grain brown rice
3 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons salt (I prefer fine-grain sea salt)
6 ounces extra-firm tofu
zest and juice of one orange
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce (I like tamari)
2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
4 green onions, sliced
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced or diced as you like it
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Toasted nori, chopped or crumbled, to taste.

Method:

1. Rinse rice until water runs clear. Combine rice, water and salt in a pot and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer gently under water is absorbed, about 45 minutes.

2. While the rice cooks, toast a sheet of nori in a pre-heated 300F oven. Chop with a sharp knife or crumble between your fingers. Set aside.

3. Drain tofu and pat dry. Cut the block to make four 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick sheets. Cook in a dry skillet over medium-high heat until it starts to pick-up some colour, about 4 minutes. Flip, then cook for another 2 minutes until golden. Let cool, then cut into matchsticks or chunks. Set aside.

4. To make the dressing, combine juice and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Cook for 1 or 2 minutes, then add the soy sauce and vinegar. Return to a gentle boil and cook another 1 or 2 minutes, until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the zests.

5. When the rice is done, stir in dressing. Serve in individual bowls, topped with nori, green onions, tofu, avocado and sesame seeds.

Eat Well Feel Well Avocado Dip

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On New Year’s Day I was horrified to discover that my favorite jeans, my coveted, size 12 jeans that I had once worked very hard to fit into, wouldn’t zip up.

Having spent the night at our friends new home in London, Ontario, I had two options:

A. Grab a coat hanger, lie down on the bed and pray I could suck in hard enough to get those bad boys to zip; or,

B. Put the clothes I wore the night before back on and hope that the other guests were too bleary eyed to remember what I had worn.

In utter denial I of course went for option A, but no amount of sucking in could hide the hideous muffin top that spilled over the waistband of my jeans, which if we’re honest wasn’t just any ordinary muffin, but a Costco-sized one. And so I showed up for breakfast in my party outfit. That morning I was thankful I finally had a chance to register for Eat Well Feel, love child f holistic nutritionist Joy McCarthy and Michelle Uy, a yoga teacher.

While you might be hard-pressed to find evidence of it on this blog, I do try to eat clean when I can and take a holistic approach to health. I’ve admired Joy’s sensible approach to nutrition and wellness and her supernaturally shiny hair on Twitter for sometime, and so was looking forward to getting back to a healthy routine and a weekly yoga date with myself. I had wanted to take the course last year, but time and money and energy had never seemed to align.

Of course we ended up buying our house just days before classes started, which was my excuse for why I cheated my way through the entire six weeks, continuing to indulge in my afternoon sugar hit and greasy, Saturday morning everything-bagels with fried eggs, cheese and mayo. I recognize I still have a lot of cleaning up to do, but I have made a lot of positive changes so far this year and I am feeling no less than one million times better than I was on January 1. I wore my size 12 jeans last weekend;,my muffin top reduced to the size of what you might find on a continental breakfast buffet at a Days Inn.

Tuesday was our last class and to celebrate we had a potluck. Joy had mentioned the idea of a potluck early on in the course and I of course penciled it into my calendar right way. When Heidi Swanson released the recipe sampler from her yet-to-be-released cookbook I knew right away what my contribution to the spread would be. She called it Avocado and Mustard Seeds, but in my book (on my blog?) it will forever be known as Eat Well Feel Well Avocado Dip.

Eat Well Feel Well Avocado Dip
Makes about 2 cups
Adapted from Super Natural Every Day: Six Recipe Sampler

Ingredients:

2 ripe avocados
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 white onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 jalapeno pepper, or to taste, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped

Method:

1. Cut each avocado in half, remove the pit and scoop the flesh into a small bowl. Add the lemon juice, salt and cilantro. Mash avocado gently with a fork, keeping the mixture chunky. Set aside.

2. Heat coconut oil in a covered-skillet over medium heat. When hot, add mustard seeds (Heidi warns to keep a lid on hand as the seeds will pop out of your pan. She was right). After a minute, stir in onion and saute 2 to 3 minutes, until translucent. Stir in garlic, curry powder and the jalapeno pepper.

3. Count to ten and remove from the heat. Stir in the avocado until just mixed, you want it to keep its shape. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with a few more cilantro leaves.

4. Serve warm or at room temperature with your favorite dip vehicle. I served ours with Food Should Taste Good Olive Chips.