Great Balls of Goodness

Glutinous rice or sticky rice is completely safe to include in a gluten free diet. Don’t let phonetics confuse you! Glutinous rice flour, a derivative of glutinous rice, does not contain proteins (gluten/gliadin) that are harmful to gluten intolerant individuals. Instead, it can serve as a wonderful thickening agent in lieu of wheat flour. Its high starch content helps thicken sauces, and when used in baking, it produces a texture similar to mochi.

There are wonderful things that are made from glutinous rice–such as sweet soup dumplings or “tongyuan,” a popular Chinese dessert. Tongyuans are typically served during the Lunar New Year or Lantern Festival season, and are often made from scratch. But when I crave for a quick way to satiate my sweet tooth, I like to reach for these frozen tongyuans by Laurel’s. They come in a variety of flavors in the frozen foods section of well-stocked Chinese grocery stores, but my favorites are black sesame or peanut filled.20130103-114956.jpg
They are easy to prepare too! Just plop them in boiling water for 5-8 minutes and the sticky balls of goodness are ready to be fished out and served.

20130103-115757.jpgI like to eat mine plain, but it is also popular to add a delicious syrupy soup. 20130103-115126.jpg20130103-115302.jpg
I’ve cut a couple open to showcase the fillings– here we have black sesame on the left, peanut on the right.

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Recipes worth Sharing: Wiki Taziki

Juicing can cost a pretty penny. In attempt to make that penny stretch, I decided to take the remains of the cucumber juice (see previous post) and drive its potential toward a beautiful non-runny Taziki sauce.

Taziki is one of my very favorite things to have with most foods because it is so healthy and so delicious. It also instantly transports me back to 2005 when I was hopping from Greek island to Greek island, having this spread with chips, fries, chicken, beef, etc… I think I’m overdue for a return visit! Here’s how you do it:

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Recipe:
1/8 of an onion, chopped finely (you can add more or less)
1 ½ cup of Greek yogurt
1 cup of cucumber remains
2 teaspoons of sesame seeds
Salt-to-taste

1. Combine onion, yogurt, cucumber and sesame seeds in a tupper-ware type container for easy storage.
2. Add salt to taste.
3. Break a plate, and enjoy!

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Safety First: How to Handle the Over-Ripe Avocado

Avocados have secured a title among the firmament of great super foods because of its high content in folate, potassium, vitamins E, C and K. It serves as a good antioxidant because it is an excellent source of glutathione, a molecule primarily used by the liver to sop up free radicals. In addition, the buttery fruit is high in monounsaturated fat which helps lower bad LDL cholesterol and increase good HDL cholesterol—it is too good, and so true.

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Avocados can be had savory or sweet, but is most commonly found in the ever-popular guacamole dip. In preparing the fruit for any purpose, most people slice the fruit in half and approach it with a spoon. I’ve found that the best way to extract the meat is to quarter the avocado and peel the skin away from it like a banana. I do this because an avocado can have bruises or be affected by plant pathogens just under the skin. If you scoop the meat out, it’s harder to assess the quality of the fruit.

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It’s unsightly….but is it still safe to eat?

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According to Christine Bruhn, an avocado expert from UC Davis, cosmetically flawed parts– browning flesh or unsightly patches under the skin–does not mean that the entire avocado needs to be sacrificed. Salvaging the unaffected portions of the avocado is perfectly acceptable practice. Plant pathogens that affect avocados, such as Botryosphaeria and Fusicoccum fungi are generally not known to cause disease in humans. However, if the fruit becomes so overly ripe that the taste morphs toward unfamiliar territory, or is obviously moldy and rotten, you’re better off tossing it. Christine also debunked the widely held belief that if you leave the seed in your guacamole it would keep the dip from browning. She explains that the browning is due to oxidization. Once the fruit has been festively mashed up, the seed doesn’t keep the meat from coming in contact with the air. It’s best to eat all your guacamole in one sitting while it’s fresh, but if you must save it, sealing the dip with plastic wrap (with the plastic making direct contact) may be used for the short-term.

Avocados are a permanent item on my grocery list so that I could incorporate it in my diet daily, but keeping them fresh can be tricky. As a rule of thumb, I only buy the fruit when it is still firm, and I allow them to ripen at home. When they appear ready to consume, storing them in the fridge extends the shelf life for up to a week. Steve Dreistadt, an agricultural expert from the University of California explained that avocados are often imported from various regions of the world; Mexico, Chile, Dominican Republic, and California just to name a few. Generally, these regions take turns in harvesting the fruit so that avocados are available year round. Lucky us!