Japanese Cucumber Salad

Japanese Cucumber Salad is a perfect side dish to sushi, teriyaki chicken, miso, and other Japanese meals! This cooling cucumber salad is a bright combination of mild vinegar, sweet coconut sugar, deep toasted sesame oil, and salty tamari (or soy sauce). It’s the perfect complement to my simple teriyaki chicken, homemade sushi, miso soup, or any Japanese food!

Eating a Japanese style meal doesn’t mean stuffing your face with white rice (though white rice can certainly be an important part of it). I’ve enjoyed reading more about the traditional Japanese food culture, which often included eating small plates of a wide variety of foods. It’s a beautiful tradition that allows a wide variety of flavors and nutrition! It was also often full of lots of veggie sides – like this cucumber one! When I take the extra time to make a simple veggie side or two, it makes the meal so much better – more satisfying and fun to eat too! This cucumber salad tastes a lot like ones we’ve been served at sushi restaurants. It has a balance of salty, sweet, sour, and umami. Yum.

I used  (#affiliate links) raw coconut vinegar in mine, which is nutritious raw fermented vinegar that is lighter than the raw apple cider vinegar I tend to use. You can use apple cider vinegar, but may want to sweeten it a little more since it is so powerful. Traditionally, rice wine vinegar was used, which is mild and perfect for so many Asian dishes. I’d recommend that as well. Also, make sure you use toasted sesame oil, not untoasted. Toasted sesame oil adds a lot of nutty flavor, while untoasted is used as a cooking oil. This is the brand I used. I used coconut sugar as we are sensitive to cane sugar, but using an organic cane sugar would work beautifully as well.

If you enjoy cucumber salads, try out this cucumber and red onion salad as well.

Japanese Cucumber Salad
 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 med/large cucumber, or two small
  • ¼ cup vinegar (rice wine vinegar, coconut vinegar, raw apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar (or organic cane sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seed oil
  • 2 teaspoons tamari (for gluten-free) or soy sauce
  • Optional for garnish: Toasted sesame seeds and/or nori flakes
Instructions
  1. About a half an hour before eating peel the cucumber(s) and cut in half lengthwise and seed. (Read out to seed a cucumber here.) Using a sharp knife, slice thinly into half moons. Put aside in a bowl. You should have about two cups worth.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, coconut sugar, toasted sesame seed oil, tamari or soy sauce. Pour over cucumbers, and gently toss. Place, covered, in the refrigerator, and let chill for about 20 minutes. The vinegar is the first to be absorbed by the cucumbers, but as the minutes pass, the cucumbers will pick up on the sweetness and saltiness of the other ingredients. Toss once or twice, if you have the chance, while it chills. When ready to serve, toss again, and feel free to adjust the flavors if needed. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and/or nori flakes, and serve.

 

Easy Thai Curry Noodle Soup

Thai Curry Noodle Soup

By Katie Mae Stanley, Contributing Writer

Light and flavorful, this simple Thai curry noodle soup will warm you on a cool evening. It is a perfect, frugal meal to throw together when you are short on time and is bursting with flavor.

Using homemade chicken stock adds an extra boost of nutrition to this tasty soup. Fresh stock is a frugal and easy way to nourish your family. Coconut milk not only makes your dish creamy and decadent is bursting with nutrition as well.

(Post may contain affiliate links. Thanks for supporting this blog!) 

When buying coconut milk it is important as part of a real foods diet to know what is in your milk. Many brands contain carrageenan, sugar and other preservatives. There are a few suitable options out there. Native Forest, is an excellent brand that is organic and BPA free. Another good brand is Thai Kitchen, which is not BPA free but the company claims that their product is “BPA safe”. Thai Kitchen is more creamy and has always been my favorite brand. And check out this brand, and this one, for guar gum-free coconut milk.

Thai is one of my favorite cuisines, there is no denying that. There is few thing less satisfying for me than creating ethnic dishes at home. When you use your own ingredients you can know that your food will be free of unhealthy oils, sugars and preservatives that are frequently found when dinning out.

Homemade Thai Inspired Recipes:

Thai Curry Noodle Soup
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Thai
Serves: 4-6
 
Light and flavorful, this simple Thai curry noodle soup will warm you on a cool evening. It is a perfect meal to throw together when you are short on time and is bursting with flavor.
Ingredients
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 16 oz vermicelli rice noodles
  • 1 lb chicken breast or thighs, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ lb fresh sugar snap peas
  • 2 tsp thai red curry, or curry paste of choice (I use this one)
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 inch of lemon grass, split
  • optional garnishes
  • Fresh basil (Thai is preferred)
  • Fresh spearmint leaves
  • Fresh cilantro
Instructions
  1. In a large sauce-pot add the coconut milk, curry paste, lemon grass, garlic and ginger. Cook on low for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the onions cook for another five minutes.
  3. Pour in the broth and add the chicken and sugar snap peas. Simmer for about 5 minutes for until the chicken is cook through.
  4. Add the rice noodles, turn off the heat and cover until the noodles are softened.
  5. Garnish with thai basil, spearmint leaves and cilantro if desired.

 

Coconut Whipped Cream (Stevia-Sweetened, Paleo-Friendly)

Coconut Whipped Cream (using three ingredients, and stevia sweetened)
Fluffy whipped cream with rich vanilla tones and stevia sweetened is the perfect topping for holiday pies, or creamy DIY lattes and fall drinks (such as my Paleo Pumpkin Spice Latte). I gave some topped on a hot beverage to my not-into-healthy-or-allergy-friendly-food dad, and he thought it was normal whipped cream! I got a kick out of that.

I shared a while back my Coconut Whipped Cream and my Chocolate Coconut Whipped Cream, and I promised you that I’d update you as I continue to experiment with it. I have always given stevia as an option when making this whipped cream, but over time I have found that it worked best with a few adjustments to the original recipe.

I have had so much fun using it! For those of you who don’t know, I was taken off of even my beloved natural sweeteners for a time period, just to help my sugar levels even out. I don’t like to use a ton of stevia (since it can be very concentrated and refined), but having my whipped cream to enjoy with fresh fruits ( or even to top my coffee with!) has been incredibly helpful in not feeling deprived. I haven’t been making it every week, but when I do, I really feel pampered.

Also, for those of you doing Trim Healthy Mama, this stevia sweetened version will work great for satisfying meals/days.

Besides changing the sweetener out for stevia, the significant change I made was taking out the added coconut oil. I found without the liquid from the maple syrup, it actually was getting too firm inside the canister, making it hard to come out. (That can happen no matter what, just let it sit out at room temperature for about 15 minutes, if needed.). The trade off is that the whipped cream isn’t quite as firm, but without adding it, it comes out more reliably, so that’s the trade-off.

So for this version, you actually only need three ingredients. Canned whole fat coconut milk, stevia of choice, and vanilla. Nice!

3 ingredient Coconut Whipped Cream (Stevia Sweetened)… 

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How to Make Nourishing Chicken Broth for Practically Free

How to make chicken broth for practically nothing. Nourishing Food doesn't have to be expensive!
Chicken broth is one of the most wonderful foods out there. It is full of flavor and incredibly nutritious! And it’s also very frugal to make, which is why it was one of the first things I mentioned in my 52 ways to save money on a healthy diet series. We actually save a lot of money when making soup based meals often because broth can be very frugal to make. Today, I want to show you an even more frugal method to making chicken broth!

As the contributing writers and I have been working on The Healthy $1 Menu series, we have struggled to put a price on homemade chicken broth – partly because we make it with slightly different methods, causing a fluctuation in price. One of my contributors choose to list hers as “free” because she follows a method which basically just uses food scraps! Broth is wonderfully adaptable, and this is one super-frugal way to make it.

I think that it is such a great method, that I thought I’d share how I make broth using scraps (you can also read my other method here). I’ve referenced this method before, but I thought it was worth showing step-by-step.

I basically have two freezer baggies, one for bones, and one for vegetable scraps. Whenever we do any type of bone-in-chicken (like these Lemon Garlic Drumsticks), we save the bones by placing them in the freezer bag and putting them in the freezer. When I am peeling carrots, have bits and pieces of leftover celery, onion,mushroom stems, etc, I put them in the second bag and also freeze it. When you have enough to make a pot of soup, you dump everything into the pot, add whatever herbs or other additions you want, and then cover with water, bring to a boil, and after a long simmer, they are done! Here are pictures of that process.

Making nourishing chicken broth for practically nothing out of scraps!… 

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