Happy National Nutrition Month from Chef Stella's Kitchen!

Grab your knives and warm up your safety claw because March's National Nutrition Month demands we perform at our top levels!  We are using the best seasonal produce (hello, asparagus!) and our best knife skills to create a dish that is a feast for your eyes and your metabolism. Our colorful stir-fry combines the enzyme dynamism of raw food with the delicious browning of cooked food and the result is a spicy, yummy Asian-flavored base for weekday meals. The raw side of things includes minced bok choy leaves, nori (a mild-flavored sea vegetable), sesame seeds (omit if you are allergic), ginger, garlic, and scallions. The cooked side of things gives us onions, bell peppers, english peas, asparagus, scallions, and water chestnuts. 

Need more? Make the Thai Chili sauce to add in hot chilis, shallots, and lime.

Yep, National Nutrition Month asks us to consciously eat more fruits and veggies and this recipe answers with enthusiasm! The two sauces can be made separately and stored in the refrigerator to use with other healthy meals you and your family have invented.

Loaded Veggie Stir Fry

Serves 4

Ingredients

·       4 stalks asparagus, fancy-fine julienne

·       1/2 onion, saute slice

·       2 stalks bok choy, fancy-fine julienne and leaves removed, minced, and set aside

·       1 red or orange bell pepper, fancy-fine julienne

·       1/4 cup water chestnuts, rinsed

·       8 english peas, rough chopped

·       2 scallions, whites only - reserve the green tops with the bok choy leaves

·       2 Tablespoons sesame oil (use olive oil or coconut oil if you have an allergy)

Directions

1. Stir frying depends on a hot wok and a careful mis en place. Grab 4 bowls to put near your cooking station. Arrange your mis en place: combine the asparagus and onions in one bowl. In a different bowl, put the bok choy stems and bell pepper. Minced bok choy leaves and scallion tops will be mixed in at the very end, so find a smaller bowl for them and place it off to the side. The water chestnuts, english peas, and scallion whites go into the fourth bowl.

2. Turn the stove-eye to medium-high heat and place the wok. Add one tablespoon of the sesame oil and let it get hot. Test by placing one piece of onion in the pan and listen for the sounds of sizzle- once its jumping and popping all around, the oil is ready. Pour the asparagus and onion bowl into the wok. Stir the veggies so they are thoroughly coated with oil. Let them cook for about 3 minutes, then add the bell peppers and bok choy bowl. Let this cook til there is a little browning on the edges and the kitchen smells fragrant with onions and peppers, abuot 3 minutes. Stir and scoot the veggies up on the side of the wok and add the last bowl of english peas, water chestnuts, and scallion whites. Stir once more to coat the veggies (add the last tablespoon of sesame oil here if you need to deglaze the wok), arrange the veggies on the sides of the wok so they are touching the heat, and let cook for about 2 more minutes. It could be less-- you need to taste the veggies along the way and make sure they are staying crisp. For more stir-frying tips, see the Nutrition Superstar section of this handout.

3. Toss the cooked stir-fry with the bok choy and scallion leaves, gomasio, and miso dressing. Spice it up with the Thai Chili Sauce and serve immediately.

Gomasio

Ingredients

·       1 Tablespoon sesame seeds (substitite flax seeds if you have an allergy)

·       1 thin strip nori (it should equal about 1 teaspoon when it's crushed)

·       1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Directions

1. Combine everything in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder. Crush to desired consistency.

Miso Dressing

Ingredients

·       2 Tablespoons light miso

·       1/4 cup brown rice vinegar

·       1/4 cup tamari, shoyu, low-sodium soy sauce, or Bragg's Amino Acids

·       3 Tablespoons sesame oil (substitute olive oil if you have an allergy)

·       2 teaspoons honey

·       1 teaspoon minced ginger

·       1 teaspoon minced garlic

Directions

1. Whisk the miso, vinegar, tamari, sesame oil, and honey together until it is smooth. Stir in the ginger and garlic. Toss the stir-fry in 1/3 of this dressing, adding more as needed. Store the rest in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Thai Chili Sauce

Ingredients

·       1 Tablespoon olive oil

·       1-2 dried Thai red chili

·       1 - 2 shallots, minced

·       2 cloves garlic

·       juice of 1 lime

·       zest of 1/2 lime

·       pinch of sea salt

Directions

1. Put everything in a food processor and process until its smooth. Dot it on the stir fry and store the extra in the refrigerator for up to a month. Hint: this is especially good on eggs!

Variations

Steaming is a more hands-off technique to use with these veggies. Use a steamer basket on your stovetop by placing an inch of water in the bottom of a pan, lower the steamer basket into the pan, then layer your vegetables on top. Cook your meat and other foods while the steam crisps the veggies. Some rice cookers can be used as steamers.

Herbs!  Cilantro, Thai basil, and mint would all be delicious touches and give you the extra enzyme and phytonutrient boost of raw green plants.

Nutrition Superstars!

Miso is a fermented soybean paste. It is a traditional, nourishing food that comes from introducing a mold to rice, allowing the rice mold for a few days, then adding cooked soybeans and salt to the culture. More fermenting takes place then the entire mixture is ground to a nut butter consistency. There are different colors of miso that you will find in the grocery or Asian market; the lighter ones are less salty and the darker ones are more intensely salty. You can use miso to supplement your mineral needs as it has a high concentration of zinc, copper, and iron. The cancer-fighting benefits of soy are also prevalent in miso. Miso is known as chiang in China and chao do in Vietnam.

Nori is the famous sushi roll wrapper. It has also began to enjoy popularity as a nutritious snack alternative to potato chips. Sea vegetables are indispensable for their mineral content-- literally, they contain all the minerals of the ocean. Nori and other sea vegetables contain high amounts of easily absorbed minerals such as calcium and iodine, folic acid, potassium, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, and the list goes on and on. Sea vegetables can help reduce inflammation by the effect of lignans which are plant compounds that do two amazing things: they are anti-oxidative and they control the horomonal signaling of estrogen-dependent cancers. Many of the minerals in nori are used by the brain to control depression, anxiety, and stress.

Stir-Frying is a great technique to learn for cooking vegetables because it gives the veggies more flavor than steaming, but it keeps the calories lower than sauteeing or roasting. The heat of your pan and the low amount of oil used in cooking is the real panache here. A hot, hot pan can quickly sear the outsides of veggies while keeping the inside crisp. Cook your densest vegetables first (in our case, the onions and asparagus) then move to the softest (in our case, the water chestnuts, peas, and scallions). Each addition only needs 2 -3  minutes cooking time. The easiest way to make sure you don't overcook your stir-fry is to cook each vegetable separately. In either case, when you are ready to add the sauce, push all the veggies onto the sides of the wok, making a well in the center. Lower the heat, pour the sauce in the well, then stir your veggies quickly to heat up the sauce and coat everything.

Farmer's Markets

If your local farmer’s market is not open during winter months, I recommend the year-round Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

1 Ferry Plaza (Embarcadero):  Tuesdays 10 – 2; Thursdays 10 - 2; Saturdays 8 - 2

Saint Paul’s

Noe Valley Farmers’ Market: 3861 24th street: Saturdays 8 - 1

Zion Lutheran

Parking Lot between 8th and 9th Avenue, South of Irving: Sundays 9 – 1

Kaiser Farmer’s Market: 2525 Geary at Saint Joseph’s street: Wednesdays 10 – 2:30

Saint Vincent de Paul

Fort Mason Center: Marina & Buchanan: Sundays 9:30 - 1:30

Attached Files