Yaki Udon (Japanese Stir-Fried Udon Noodles)

Yaki Udon recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com

There is no kidding around with udon. They are chewy, slippery, rope-sized noodles. For an “over-chewer” like me, who needs to chew every bit of food to a granular level before swallowing it, staring down at a large bowl of udon is daunting. It always makes me think back to this tiny udon shop in the mountains outside of Tokyo.

The Japan Fly Fishers group would kindly take me out on fly fishing excursions, which usually included a stop at some amazing, traditional restaurant along the way (okay, I have to admit they did bring me to Denny’s once for brunch, but if you’ve spent time in Japan, you know that isn’t unusual). After fishing all morning, a few of us walked out of the river and right into what looked like a house, but was a beautiful udon shop where they were hand-making udon and cooking them over a wood fire.

Still in our waders, we sat down at the circular table around the fire, and wrapped our cold hands around each bowl of udon. I closed my eyes and inhaled the steam and aroma, but was suddenly shaken out of my “Folger’s-in-your-cup” moment by the sounds of slurping. Before I chewed on my first noodle, everyone else had already slurped down half their bowls, seemingly swallowing the noodles whole. A few more loud slurps, and the bowls were empty. With tapping feet around me raring to get back to the river, I stuffed my face, chewed like crazy, and choked and coughed on udon until it was gone.

My udon eating skills never improved, but you know what, I still love udon. Just at home now, in a no-pressure, no-slurp zone. Hot in a soup broth, chilled with a dipping sauce, smothered in Japanese curry, or quickly stir-fried like in this Yaki Udon

Yaki Udon (Japanese Stir-Fried Udon Noodles) recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com

Vegetarian Poke Bowl - A spin on a classic Hawaiian dish

Vegetarian Poke Bowl with Tofu & Avocado recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com

Like a game of Chinese whispers (aka telephone), the farther the reach of Hawaiian poke into restaurants and home kitchens across the US and the world, the further the dish deviates from its origins.

And that’s okay.  Actually, it’s great!

Poke (‘poh-kay’), like so many other traditional dishes, has its origins in – “Let’s see what we have laying around here and throw it together in a bowl.”

Poke may have started with raw seafood cut into cubes and mixed with seaweed, roasted kukui (candlenut), and Hawaiian sea salt, but it has evolved now into countless variations as its popularity has exploded.  It’s one of those dishes that you can play with in your kitchen to find your favorite (and maybe easiest) way to enjoy it.   It simply makes cooking fun!

Vegetarian Poke Bowl by SeasonWithSpice.com

Bok Choy Muchim (Korean Bok Choy Salad)

Bok Choy Muchim recipe(Korean Bok Choy Salad) by SeasonWithSpice.com

What is Muchim

Muchim means salad in Korean.  They often grace the table as cold-dish appetizers in a spread to start out your meal.  What makes these Korean salads truly stand alone – sometimes even outshining the main dishes – is that they are dressed with lip-smacking, umami-flavored sauces made with a variety of essential Korean seasonings like gochujang (Korean red chili paste) and doenjang (Korean fermented soy bean paste).

Some of the popular muchim include oi-muchim (spicy cucumber salad), kongnamul muchim (soybean sprouts salad), pa muchim (scallion salad), and golbaengi muchim (the ultimate muchim made with squid, sea snail, pollack and an assorted mix of vegetables).

Or my personal favorite, this Korean Bok Choy Salad Seasoned with Soy Bean Paste, also known as Bok Choy Muchim.

Korean bok choy recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com

For this Bok Choy Muchim, the tender green leaves of baby bok choy get a quick blanch in boiling water. Just cooked long enough to dispel the bitter notes from the rawness of the greens, without overcooking them where they lose their tender-crisp.

Kimchi Cauliflower Fried 'Rice'

Kimchi Cauliflower Fried Rice by SeasonWithSpice.com

The day after I learned about the link between pregnancy & Type 2 diabetes, I was in my kitchen processing cauliflower into rice

Oh, how the health of our bodies can turn our kitchens upside down!

I was helping a friend a few years ago, who during her second trimester, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.  She was a very healthy eater already, but the doctor advised her to cut down on carbohydrates like cereal and rice to regulate her blood sugar.  Rice was a staple of her diet, so she asked me for help to find her a substitute.  So a day later, I was busy chopping and transforming cauliflower into rice.

Kimchi Cauliflower Fried Rice recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com

Cauliflower as an alternative to rice?  I was skeptical that it could stand in for fluffy rice.  But to my surprise, cauliflower ‘rice’ turned out to be delightful, and I started to incorporate it into more of my meals like in this recipe for spicy, tangy Kimchi Cauliflower Fried Rice.

Tomato & Shrimp Curry

Tomato & Shrimp Curry recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com

I love it when customers tell me how pleasantly surprised they are to try out a recipe that may look complicated, but turns out to be simple to pull together.  Today’s recipe – Tomato & Shrimp Curry - is one of those that is full of big, bold flavors yet easy enough to master.

Tomato & Shrimp Curry recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com

Juicy, succulent shrimp, cooked gently in a tomato base, spiced with aromatic shallots, ginger, and garlic, along with our handcrafted Sweet & Spicy Curry Powder.  All those wonderful flavors meld in the hot skillet to achieve that sweet, tanginess with a hint of spice.

Slow Cooker Hoisin Five-Spice Beef with Broccoli

Slow Cooker Hoisin Five-Spice Beef with Broccoli recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com

Beef & Broccoli is a classic combination in Chinese cooking.  Usually it’s stir-fried, but for a healthier version, I like to steam the broccoli and use a slow cooker for the beef.  You use less oil and the beef gets so melt-in-your-mouth tender. (You’ve probably tried beef & broccoli from a take-out before and had a hard time chewing through the tough, stir-fried meat.  Not something you have to worry about if you are slow cooking the beef at home).

Slow Cooker Hoisin Five-Spice Beef with Broccoli recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com

Radish, Asparagus, and Edamame Stir-Fry

Radish, Asparagus, and Edamame Stir-Fry by SeasonWithSpice.com

Only 2.7% of Americans have a “healthy lifestyle”, which contributes to a “lower risk of cardiovascular disease as well as many other health problems, such as cancer and type 2 diabetes.” 

That’s according to a recent study published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.  Researchers from Oregon State University and the University of Mississippi examined adults and evaluated them on four basic criteria: 

1. Healthy diet 
2. Moderate exercise (150 minutes/week) 
3. Body fat percentage 
4. Non-smoker

The results – “A total of 71% of adults did not smoke, 38% ate a healthy diet, 10% had a normal body fat percentage, and 46% were sufficiently active. Only 2.7% of adults had all four healthy lifestyle characteristics, while 16% had three.”

The results will probably surprise us all in one way or another.  I was disappointed to read that 30% of adults still smoke, but I was actually encouraged to see that almost 40% of adults are eating a healthy diet.  I’m sure that trend has been moving up recently with so much more information about the foods we consume and how they affect our bodies. 

I’m happy that the researchers listed a good diet as the first metric since that is definitely where a healthy lifestyle begins.  If you are already eating a diet rich in vegetables and whole grains, then it is natural for you to start changing other aspects of your life – from quitting smoking to exercising regularly to getting more sleep.

Radish, Asparagus, and Edamame Stir-Fry by SeasonWithSpice.com