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seaweed

Japanese Miso and Seaweed Noodle Soup

Japanese Miso and Seaweed Noodle Soup

With 1-degree wind chills and the first dusting of snow, it only seemed natural to whip up a big pot of soup.

A little urban exploration and camera venture outdoors left my frigid hands wanting nothing more than a warm bowl to hold. My red cheeks were longing for that steam-filled facial, too.

And so began the soup-making.

Japanese Miso and Seaweed Noodle Soup

Originally, this was designed to be a ramen recipe. But when you get to the store and no ramen noodles are to be found, that needn’t be reason to abandon ship.

Instead, I found a funky package of raw kelp noodles laying on the shelf near the empty ramen spot. Resembling cooked rice noodles upon first look, I decided to give it a whirl. Plus, the package sold me on the claim of tons of trace minerals captured inside…

Japanese Miso and Seaweed Noodle Soup

The kelp strands were slightly crunchy – almost like a julienned cucumber – but also smooth and mild like a rice noodle.

I’d eat them again, and would recommend them for this recipe, especially if you’re seeking a light, New-Year-resolution-friendly, goodbye-sickness meal. Although, ramen or rice noodles will certainly work just as well – and play a heartier role.

Japanese Miso and Seaweed Noodle Soup

The broth here gets its flavor from kombu, one of my favorite seaweeds, and also from ginger, garlic and mushrooms. Feel free to play around with dried mushroom and other veggie combinations. But don’t skip the seaweed. It’s chock full of vitamins and minerals, and also able to develop an awesome, vegetarian umami flavor.

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Savory Japanese Oats

Savory Japanese Oats

“It’s a little too sweet. I’d like it better if it wasn’t so sweet.” “…Classic Grace.”

It’s a common dialogue between my friends and I. It’s also why I rarely order cocktails off a pre-made menu. Why I always opt to add my own sweetener to my yogurt. Order my coffee black. And prefer to make my own granola and salad dressings and desserts.

I don’t trust others to sweeten my food because it always turns out just “a little too sweet”! My friends would disagree with me on this. And I will agree to disagree, on most occasions.

Scallions

I’m not one of those puzzling non-dessert people. In fact, my sweet tooth can get a little out of hand sometimes. (Cue the disappearance of 1/2 of a dark chocolate bar  after intentions of only eating one square). But I do prefer everything on the bitter side. That means dark chocolate vs. milk. Froyo vs. gelato (a frequent trigger of that quoted dialogue above). Espresso vs. lattes. Beer vs. cocktails. Etc.

I love sugar. Just not in dominating amounts. Which means you’ll rarely find me ordering oatmeal at a restaurant because you’ll rarely find a restaurant serving oatmeal without sugar being the commander of its seasoning. (A spoonful of sugar’s needed to make the oatmeal go down? Some friends would agree with that too.)

Savory Japanese Oats

Often, I don’t want my oatmeal sweetened at all. My new obsession is savory oats, and if you haven’t tested this out yet, I recommend giving it a try.

Going the savory route creates a breakfast that feels so fresh and energizing, it’s hard to turn back. I know soy sauce on oats, and scallions too, might sound strange, but trust me on this one. It’s unique in all the right ways.

Purple Sweet Potato

Unique, kind of like purple sweet potatoes. Are these not gorgeous?! They’re totally worth the splurge at the grocery store if you can afford it, and also find them. To me, that smile that will come after piercing their just-baked skin and seeing their vibrancy is worth it alone.

Purple Sweet Potato

Yes, I play with my food sometimes.

Japanese Savory Oats

Here, the sweet potato adds a little sweetness that pairs well with the heat of the Sriracha and bite of the onion. Sesame and toasted nori continues to infuse the delicate oats so that each bite has a profusion of complimenting flavors. You could easily fry up an egg (or soft boil) and throw it on top for another dimension. Regardless, you’ll end up with an incredible, no-sugar-need bowl of oats that no one will say is “too sweet” and that everyone will say is pretty fantastic. And energizing, too.

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Winter Soba Noodle Soup with Chili Sesame Oil

Winter Soba Noodle Soup with Chili Sesame Oil

When it rains, it pours.

There was a time a couple years ago when my car got towed while I was away, traveling for a month. An entire month in a Philly tow truck lot costs the equivalent to an entire month of a lot of people’s salaries. It was an unfortunate way to return home from a trip. To further this unfortunate nonsense, my wallet got stolen the week that followed. And in the days that followed that, I got hit by a car (luckily without much injury). To end out that week, I was laid off from a steady freelance gig, because times were apparently tough for everyone that year.

It was a month of rain – the kind where lighting seems to strike down without warning, and the power goes out, and you’re left in silence wondering what to learn from the entire situation as you wait for the lights to turn on again. (Part of what I learned is that tears don’t work on Philly tow truck guys, ever. Ever. Sometimes money situations aren’t fun, but they aren’t usually worth that whole breath-stealing mountain of your stress. And sometimes it just pours in life, and if you don’t learn to move on, you’ll become a miserable human being. Like I imagine the tow truck people are.)

Fast forward two years later, and again, it appears to be pouring. However, this time it’s that good kind of storm, where the sun’s somehow peaking out while the drops are still falling, and you’re looking at the sky in pure awe. Waves of rain. That is life, at least from my own experience.

Kale

It feels like everything I’ve been working at for awhile now is starting to all pick up steam. All at the exact same time, spearheading in one single month. I’ve had my soup spoon in a million different pots these past few years, so a lot is going on right now. Crazy.

It’s a weird, terrifying, exciting, overwhelming[ly satisfying] feeling that often leaves me in this bright-eyed, slightly wiped area. My time these days is running short, which is where food and cooking comes in.

I’m a firm believer in finding balance and space to connect with those you love – and what better way than through food? Ideally, that’s in the kitchen, over shared conversation and creativity, if you have any creative steam remaining.

Winter Soba Noodle Soup with Chili Sesame Oil

This was one of those Sunday soups, dreamed up on a rainy (speaking literally here) afternoon with one of my good friends. She brought some tiny thai chilies from her parents’ garden, which inspired the hot sesame chili oil that gets drizzled on top. Collaboration – it’s the start of all good things.

Full of hearty-healthiness, this soup is perfect for when you need brain power and stamina, and just something that tastes downright awesome in your bowl. It’s nourishing, packed with kale, butternut, and seaweed, and warming for the winter. Feel free to adjust how many chilies you use in the sesame oil, depending on your desire for spice and warmth!

P.S. FoodFitnessFreshAir is coming alive tomorrow night! For all my Philly friends, I’ll be running the food truck inside Garage bar, serving up socca with tons of fancy sauces, and simple, quality toppings. 6p.m. till sold out! Introduce yourself. Come say hello. Join me.

On tap:
-Beet Pesto with Arugula & Bulgarian Feta
-Curry Coconut Lentils with Roasted Carrots & Spicy Thai Chili
-Fire-Roasted Eggplant with Black Tahina, Honey Labane, Crispy Chickpeas, and Pomegranate Sauce

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Vegetable Nori Rolls with Crunchy Lentils and Turmeric

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

It’s crazy how much can happen in a year. How fast time can move. How change can progress. At the beginning of 2013, I quit a full-time job that, while paying my bills, was doing little else but bringing me down. I then cycled through a jillion part-time jobs, took a jillion and one photos, fell in love, fell out of love, traveled on impulse, flew out to Paris, photographed my first wedding, launched a few new ideas, schemed up a few more, had a ton of “is this real life?” moments, met a lot of clients, made new friends, shedded old friends, have become really comfortable with myself and learned a ton about what it means to live life if you really want to live it. At my age, it means taking chances. Trying new things. Learning what, and maybe who, it is you love. And practicing all of that, one way or another. Maybe that goes for every age. Probably so.

Rainbow Veggies

This year has also been a year of more and more experimenting in the kitchen, seeking out new inspiration, and growing my food photo skills. The food blog world is continuously proliferating. I saw it this past year more than ever, and find myself endlessly inspired. I’ve also come across some new friends with similar visions to spread healthy eating, and who share in the joy of eating and cooking with others. This, as well as stumbling upon some new start-ups in my city with similar viewpoints, excites me more than ever. I can’t wait to keep filling my life up with these connections and companions, and venturing into new directions. And of course sharing some of the successes here on my blog.

Vegetable Nori Rolls with Crunchy Lentils and Turmeric

A few of my favorite ingredient discoveries this year include coconut flakes, ground cherries, raw honey and the turmeric root I’ve used to spruce up this wintertime sushi. Turmeric root is a gorgeous, and incredibly healthy kitchen ingredient in which lately I simply cannot get enough. You can find it at Whole Foods, masked in a form that resembles the root-like structure of ginger. In fact, the two look nearly identical until you peel the outer layer, and find the vibrant orange of the turmeric masked beneath. A common spice in Indian cooking, likely you’ve used, or at least tasted, its powdered form before. In its fresh status, it takes on a slightly less pungent flavor that crosses its inherent characteristics with that of both ginger and carrot. At least, that’s what it tastes like to me.

Vegetable Nori Rolls with Crunchy Lentils and Turmeric

For these sushi rolls, feel free to use whatever staple ingredients of the season you have on hand. This time of year, steamed sweet potato could be nice, or maybe some kohlrabi, sliced thinly into matchsticks. I chose to go with this colorful array I had in my fridge, running out only to obtain an avocado. Don’t miss that component if you can help it! Once cubed, slightly sprinkle it with salt. This really draws out the flavor of avocado.

A fresh start to the New Year, we could all fair well to commit ourselves to a path of healthy eats. As I’ve said before, a healthy body = a happy mind. That’s worth repeating and remembering. Cheers to all of you and another year ahead. With all that happened in 2013, I’m brimming with energy for what this next year will bring. Thank you for being a part of my life.

Vegetable Nori Rolls with Crunchy Lentils and Turmeric

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Nori Brown Rice Bowls with Hoison Sauce

Nori Brown Rice Bowls with Hoison Sauce

I can’t seem to kick my iced coffee habit. The days are nearing a blustery 40 degrees, and I’m still walking out of my local cafe with ice in my java. My hands are cold, my nose is red, my coffee is staring up at me like, “girl, what were you thinking? Now I’m cold too.”

What can I say. I like high fives. I like to ride my bike. I like my coffee over ice. All year around.

Sushi, on the other hand, is not something I always reach for as wintery weather sets in. It’s by far one of my favorite meals to grab during the summer. But this time of year, it often gets ousted for soup.

Ooooh, fall.

Ooooh, fall.

Bowls like these, however, combine the best of two worlds. Fresh veg, rice and nori, all wrapped up in a warm package. Feel free to add other sushi favorites, like avocado, sesame seeds, and maybe even a splash or two of rice wine vinegar into the cooked grains. This is essentially a free-form salad, inspired by Asian flavors, not entirely adherent to sushi. The bowl is what you make of it, my friends.

Nori Brown Rice Bowls with Hoison Sauce

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