Sunday, December 21, 2014

Green Crab Salad

After yoga a few Monday evenings ago, I wanted to eat something refreshing (it's still 70 degrees in New Orleans on most days) to refuel. Because chicken and tuna salad are too basic, I came up with a light and delicious salad using crab meat. It's a great burst of flavor, mix of textures, and goes great on sourdough bread, over a bed or arugula, in a whole wheat wrap, or even pressed in an English muffin with cheese. And as always, I had to add my New Orleans twist and used pecans, Creole mustard, green onion, and Cajun seasoning. I need that heat now!

Green Crab Salad (serves 6)
1 cup crab meat, shredded
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup green grapes, halved
1 Granny Smith apple, chopped
1/2 cup pecans, roasted
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3 tbs mayonnaise - I used olive oil mayo for the first time
1 tbs mustard - I also used Creole mustard for the first time
1/4 tsp Cajun Seasoning (Slap Ya Mama, hot)
1 tbs lemon juice

1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Refrigerate or serve immediately

✓ unsaturated fats
✓ fiber
✓ protein 
✓ vegetables
✓ fruit

Monday, December 15, 2014

Lüke, New Orleans

If you like big, cheap, juicy, meaty oysters, then Louisiana is the place to be. They're not as sweet as West Coast and they're not as briny as the Northeast, but they sure are plump. And for 75 cents a pop? You know I'm there. 

This weekend, Carlo and Rosalyn visited from New York. I of course brought them to Willie Mae's, and then Rosalyn found a place with an oyster happy hour daily from 3-6 pm for 75 cents a half shell. That is an absolute steal. So the three of us obviously got 4 dozen. They were fresh, delicious, and went surprisingly well with saltines. 

333 St. Charles Avenue
New Orleans, LA

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Eating local in New Orleans: Quinoa Shrimp Mirliton

Last week I taught an afterschool 4th grade nutrition class at the International School in the Garden District. The topic my partner and I chose was eating local foods. We led a discussion on what is a farmers market and why you should shop there for your produce and what seasonal food are down here in Louisiana. We taught them how eating food from your region not only helps support local farmers, but local foods are fresher and taste better. We made a harvest calendar and split the students into groups where they were each assigned a season and to design a meal where they used season ingredients. The kids thought up of summer berry lemon smoothies, fall produce gumbo, veggie pizza, satsuma fruit salad, persimmon blueberry pie… they were incredibly creative. 

So what's mirliton? The New York Times recently published an article on the most Googled Thanksgiving food by state. New York was stuffed artichoke, lol, but Louisiana’s was shrimp mirliton, something I have never heard of in my life. Apparently mirliton is a local squash and is also known as the Latin American chayote. I tried it for the first time at a holiday party I accidentally stumbled upon in my building last week, and it was great. And I needed to make it. 

I first made my own spice packs... yes, I am that Louisiana. You can buy these spice packs at grocery stores, which are basically the holy trinity (celery, bell peppers, onions) pre-cut with shallots, parsley, and garlic. I picked up a couple of mirliton, a bag of Louisiana shrimp, and a Creole tomato from Rouse's. Because I am in a dietetics program, I can't help but make recipes healthier, so instead of bread crumbs, I decided to use quinoa. Not going to lie, my Cajun quinoa shrimp dressing is the best you will ever have. 

Quinoa Shrimp Mirliton (serves 4)
1/3 cup celery, chopped
1/3 cup green bell pepper, chopped 
1/3 cup onion, chopped 
1 tomato, chopped
1 tbs parsley, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
3 stalks green onion, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
2 cups quinoa, cooked  
1 cup shrimp, deveined and chopped 
1 tbs tomato paste
2 tbs canola oil
1/2 tsp Cajun spice (Slap Ya Mama, hot) 

1. Boil mirliton in a pot for 30-45 minutes or until soft. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out meat. Set aside. 
2. Preheat oven to 350F. 
3. In a large pan, sautee celery, peppers, garlic, green onion, parsley, shallots, garlic, and Cajun spice in canola oil. Once browned, add the tomato and tomato paste.
4. Mix in quinoa and shrimp. Sautee until shrimp is cooked. 
5. Scoop an ample amount of the dressing into the mirliton and bake for 30-35 minutes. 

✓ fiber
✓ vegetables
✓ protein 

Sunday, December 7, 2014


Now that I live in Murray Hill, actually recently renamed Rose Hill, I've become a regular at several local restaurants (not that I'm ever in the city). But when I am home, it's almost certain that my family will default to Mishima whenever we don't want to cook dinner or whenever we can't decide what we want to eat. The space is intimate; the restaurant seats no more than twenty or so people. The chef prides himself in using traditional preparation methods and the freshest ingredients, and the waitresses are the friendliest and recognize every face to come in.

We always start with appetizers, so here are a few of my favorites:

  • uni on the half shell
  • crawfish salad roll
  • fried shrimp
  • horse mackerel tataki 
  • avocado salad
  • clam or lobster miso soup
  • mushroom soup

For sashimi and sushi, you can always ask what's fresh or if the chef has any recommendations. Sometimes it's giant clam or striped jack. Others times it can be amberjack or fatty yellowtail. I love their entrees (at lunch and dinner time) because I can always use a miso broiled salmon or grilled yellowtail neck served with brown rice, calm miso soup, and their seasonal sides, salad, and pickled radish. My brother always gets a dragon roll and a shrimp tempura roll, so keep in mind that there are modern Americanized rolls for you to get as well.

... I just pretty much listed their entire menu didn't I? But just a heads up, their menu is constantly changing due to what's available seasonally, so don't go looking for crawfish in the winter or mushroom soup in the summer. Below are some of the many photos I have taken at Mishima. Hope you enjoy the simplicity and freshness of the menu as much as I do!

164 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Coca-Cola Braised Collard Greens

Monday remedy: red beans, alligator sausage pasta,
herb roasted parmesan cauliflower, and collard greens.

When I was in Atlanta with my family back in August, I did the necessary pilgrimages to the Georgia Aquarium and Coca Cola World. At the end of the tour, we were given free bottles of Coke. I've had them in my fridge since then for a rainy day, but I just really don't drink soda. I also hate to see things go to waste, so I had to get creative. Living in the south, I eat a lot of foods that aren't common or regional to.. New York City. But because I'm working on the full immersion, I made a delicious recipe to incorporate all this southern greatness into my life. 

Coca-Cola Braised Collard Greens (serves 4-6)
2 bunches collard greens, ribbed and chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
3 tbs canola oil
8 oz Coca-Cola
4 tbs balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp salt 
1/4 tsp pepper 

1. Sautee the chopped onion with canola oil on high heat. Once browned, mix in collard greens. 
2. Once greens are cooking and bright green, add Coca-Cola, balsamic vinegar, and salt/pepper. 
3. Simmer on low heat for 25-30 min, stirring occasionally (every 5 minutes). Cook until desired tenderness. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Meals From the Heart Cafe, New Orleans

Last week when I was working at Ochsner's cardiac rehab facility, there was a lot of discussion on finding places to eat out that wouldn't take too much of a toll on your blood pressure/ cholesterol/ heart/ body. My preceptor highly recommended Meals From the Heart Cafe in the French Market and especially their crab cake. 

The cafe prides themselves in offering heart healthy fresh foods with vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free options. I talked to the people behind the counter, and they told me that they are in the works of putting something together with the new VA hospital complex opening on Canal because of their heart healthy menu options.

When I sat down, I was offered a clementine. I ordered a carrot orange ginger juice and I had to try the crab cake passion, which is pure lump crabmeat served with fresh mixed greens, ripe tomatoes and house garlic-lemon Remoulade sauce. It was a delicious post-run lunch and the perfect time of year to walk around the French Market to get a jump start on Christmas shopping. 

So if you ever need a break from all the fried, smothered, and southern food in NOLA, definitely stop by Meals From the Heart for a refreshing and satisfyingly light meal. 

Meals From the Heart Cafe
1100 N. Peters St., #13 / French Market
New Orleans, LA

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Alligator Sausage and Broccoli Rabe Orecchiette

It's official. This is the third time I've posted a variation of this recipe. This is my rainy or cold day go-to lazy done in 15 minutes recipe: alligator sausage broccoli rabe orecchiette. It all started with the original Italian sausage at a New Year's Eve party in Long Island and then a another with lamb sausage from a farm in New England. So now that I'm in New Orleans, I undoubtedly needed to whip up a batch when I found alligator sausage at my local Winn Dixie's. 

This week for my rotations, I have been working at Ochsner cardiac rehab. I had to teach a class of patients about fiber and how to increase fiber in the diet. As y'all know, fiber is found in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds and helps your intestines in maintaining digestive health. One of the main teaching points was the incorporate fiber into every meal and snack, so for a pasta recipe, you can try using whole wheat pasta or including vegetables in the sauce. In this case, I used broccoli rabe (1 cup cooked, 6.6 gm of fiber) and snow peas (1/2 cup cooked, 3.5 gm of fiber). It adds texture, color, and flavor into the dish. 

Alligator Sausage and Broccoli Rabe Orecchiette
6 oz alligator sausage, uncased and cut into half inch pieces
6 oz orecchiette
1 bunch broccoli rabe, chopped
1 cup snow peas (I used frozen) 
5 cloves of garlic, diced
6 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Bring a pot of water to boil for the orecchiette, remember to salt the water. Once it is cooked, drain it and toss with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
2. In a pan heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil with the garlic and shallots.
3. Once browned, add the cut sausage. When the sausage is about half cooked, insert the broccoli rabe. Sautee until cooked.
4. Add the pasta and peas to the sausage and broccoli rabe and toss until thoroughly mixed.
5. Add fresh black pepper to taste.

✓ fiber
✓ vegetables
✓ protein 
✓ unsaturated fats 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Pineapple ginger soy marinated wings

The best part about a homemade meal is the leftovers for tomorrow's lunch!

When I was a kid, every time my mom asked me what I wanted for dinner, I would respond with marinated wings. Who wouldn't like savory tender chicken wings with meat that comes right off the bones? The pineapple adds a little sweet and sour, and the ginger provides a mean kick.  Yup, this is all I wanted to eat every day of second grade. 

Last week, I prepared Regen a home cooked Chinese meal that included a lesson on how to hold chopsticks. I made black pepper beef with bell peppers, sauteed Shanghai bok choy, and my favorite chicken wing recipe served (upon his request) with brown rice. It was a much needed comfort food dinner. My mom probably hasn't made this recipe in more than decade, so I drew upon her usual kitchen flavors and pretty much improvised until I got the taste that I distinctly remember from my younger years. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I do! 

Pineapple ginger soy marinated wings
1 lb chicken wings
1 8oz can sliced pineapple in juice, cut
6 cloves garlic, slivered
1 knob ginger, sliced
2 tbs canola oil
1/2 cup chicken broth

*Chicken marinade: 
3 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs dark soy sauce
1/3 cup shaoxing rice wine
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sesame oil

1. Leave wings in marinade in the refrigerator over night or for at least 8-12 hours. 
2. In a nonstick sauce pan, brown the ginger and garlic in canola oil on high heat. 
3. Add the wings and cook until it changes color or slightly seared. 
4. Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer with lid slightly on. Mix in the pineapple once sauce is at a light boil. 
5. Simmer for about half an hour or until a utensil easily pokes through the meat. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


NOLA Po-boys | 908 Bourbon Street New Orleans, LA

Not gonna lie, I'm pretty pissed that I was not informed that yesterday was national sandwich day. I talk about sandwiches and how much I love eating sandwiches all the time. But good thing I have this innate intuition and got myself a fried oyster po-boy yesterday instead of the staple Monday red beans and rice.

Now let me tell you how much I love po-boys. Every since I moved to New Orleans, I must've eaten three of them a week for the first two weeks. It was becoming a little too much, so now I average once a week. But at least all them po-boys got me started on my current exercise grind. Po-boys are obscenely simple. All you need is some fresh French bread, fried seafood, and I preferred mine dressed, so smother on that mayonnaise with some lettuce and tomato. That's it. There are of course variations that set apart the amateurs from the big leagues, such as the Sriracha/Tabasco mayonnaise the toasted bread, the melted American cheese, or the blackened catfish. But really, unless the bread is horrendously stale, a po-boy is always what I need. Here's a quick list of some of the po-boys I've eaten in the past two and a half months. I still have a many places I need to hit up, so this is by no means a comprehensive list. Also there's no ranking yet, but when I have the best po-boy of my life, I will be sure to make it known.

  • Acme Oyster House - Peacemaker po-boy for the win. Fried shrimp and oyster with tabasco mayo. All you need is this with a gumbo and some charbroiled oysters. 
  • Domilise's Po-boy & Bar- This place has raving reviews, but I'll be the first to admit that it's overrated and over priced. Though there was more than enough shrimp to fir another half a sandwich, the bread was tough. Unrelated: their dressing includes mustard. 
  • Joey K's - I had a fried catfish and shrimp po-boy and it was delicious, but I do wish I tried their local specials instead. Will be sure to visit again. 
  • Guy's Po-boys - Get the bomb. Grilled catfish and shrimp with melted cheese on their thin tender loaf. It's the bomb. 
  • NOLA Po-boys - Had a great fried crawfish po-boy, but the real highlight was Henok's vegetarian po-boy made with sauteed vegetables. 
  • Sandwich World - I was out in the middle of nowhere and needed a po-boy fix, and this was just on the side of the road. My shrimp po-boy was overflowing and I devoured more than half of it in my car before my drive back downtown. This place loves LSU. 
  • Stanley Restaurant - This one is special because I always get the eggs Stanley on French bread. Their fried oysters are on point. 

Domilise's Po-boy and Bar | 5240 Annunciation Street New Orleans, LA

Guy's Po-Boys | 5259 Magazine Street New Orleans, LA

Stanley Restaurant | 547 Saint Ann Street New Orleans, LA

Sandwich World | 10800 Highway 3125 Gramercy, LA

Acme Oyster House | 724 Iberville Street New Orleans, LA

Joey K's | 3001 Magazine Street New Orleans, LA

Always having a good time when I'm with a po-boy. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Basic Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie

For all ya basic girls out there, here's a seasonal recipe to get you out of that grind. It's your favorite peanut butter banana smoothies recipe with an autumnal twist. And you know what? It's only 6 ingredients that you 90% already have and it takes less than 3 minutes. Everybody got time for that. Really, it's an easy post work out go to.

Here goes.

Basic Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie
1 banana, ripe
1/3 cup ice
1.5 tbs peanut butter
1/3 cup 1% milk*
1/4 cup raw oats
1/3 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Place all ingredients in a blender.
2. Blend until smooth.

✓ whole grains
✓ fruit
✓ protein
✓ fiber
✓ potassium 
✓ unsaturated fats 

*I'm old school, so I still drink cow's milk. But feel free to substitute this ingredient with soy milk, coconut milk, or almond milk. I guarantee you it will be just as delicious.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Community cooking class at the Teaching Kitchen of Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine

Happy Food Day!

I am now almost two months in to my dietetic internship at Tulane. This week I was rotating at the Center for Culinary Medicine, which just opened on 300 N. Broad Street in the same building as Whole Foods and Liberty's Kitchen. The center hosts a multitude of events and one of the ongoing projects are the community cooking classes. These classes run for a six week session, where participants work in small groups with first year med students to make 2-3 recipes. Each group is assigned different recipes, so it's a buffet feast by the end of each evening. 

So two nights ago, I worked with two guys in making a quinoa lettuce wrap with the best spicy peanut sauce and an unbelievably easy to make super creamy chocolate banana ice cream. You got to try these recipes yourself to get how delicious and healthy they are! 

Quinoa Lettuce Wraps with Spicy Peanut Sauce
1/2 cup
Quinoa, uncooked
1 cup
1/2 each
Red bell pepper, diced small
1/2 each
Red onion, diced small
2 tbsp
Cilantro, minced
4 cloves
Garlic, minced
2 tbsp
Lime juice
To taste
Black pepper
24 leaves
Bibb lettuce

Peanut Sauce:
1 tbsp                 
2 tbsp                 
Low-sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp        
Peanut butter
1 tbsp                 
Lime juice
1 tbsp                 
To taste      
Black pepper
1 tsp

1. Gather all ingredients and equipment.
2. In a small saucepan combine quinoa and water. Cover and simmer until quinoa is tender, approximately 10 minutes. If water is low and quinoa sticks to the bottom of the pan, add 2 tablespoons of water until it is finished cooking.
3. Place quinoa in a medium-sized bowl. Add remaining ingredients for filling and stir until well mixed.
4. To create wrap, lay one lettuce leaf flat and place 2 tablespoons of quinoa mixture in center. Spread mixture slightly and roll leaf into a cigar shape.
5. For peanut sauce: Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl and serve as a dipping sauce with lettuce wraps.

Chocolate Banana Ice Cream
4 each
2 tbsp
Banana, frozen, overripe
Cocoa powder 

1.    Remove bananas from freezer and allow to sit at room temperature for 5-7 minute.
2.    Add bananas and cocoa powder to blender.
3.    Blend until smooth and creamy. It takes a while. Keep blending!
4.    Enjoy immediately.

Both recipes and a lot more can be found here.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Mapo Tofu 麻婆豆腐

Now that it's chillier out (70 degrees and sunny with a light breeze is sweater weather here in New Orleans), it's time for a spicy recipe! I asked my grandmother the secrets on making mapo tofu. It's something that I don't necessarily order because it's so common, but also because it's hard to get the right authentic Sichuan taste down. My grandmother is from Hunan, which also prides itself in eating spicy food 24/7, so she knows the ins and outs. 

One of the main things I didn't know about mapo tofu is that traditionally, it is made with beef. I always thought it was ground pork. Also, the sichuan spice is made from two different peppers: heaving facing (Sichuan) pepper and Sichuan peppercorn. The former provides the spice and the latter delivers the distinct numbing factor. 

Recently I also made this recipe for my vegetarian friend, Henok, that's Ethiopian and can handle his spice. He accidentally bit into a pepper, and it was a bad idea. Anyways, for the vegetarian version, I instead of beef I used fresh shiitake mushrooms. 

In the photo above, I made the mapo tofu with ground beef I got from Lilac Hedge Farm's meat CSA. Dare to be adventurous with your ground beef. Anyways, hope you enjoy one of my go-to recipes. And be very careful with how many peppers you throw in! 

Mapo Tofu (serves 3-4)
1 tbs canola oil
5 cloves garlic
3 sprigs scallion, diced (separate the tops and the ends) 
2 tbs spicy soy bean paste
1 pack tofu, firm
1/2 lb ground beef, marinated* or shiitake mushrooms (OR both??)
6-8 heaven facing peppers
1/3 tsp Sichuan peppercorn, crushed
1/2 tsp sesame oil

1. In a deep pan, heat oil with garlic, scallion ends, and heaven facing peppers on high heat. 
2. Once garlic and scallions are browned (make sure the peppers don't turn a dark brown), add spicy soy bean paste and mix well.
3. Stir in the ground beef (or mushrooms). 
4. Once about 70% cooked, add in the tofu and simmer on low heat with lid ajar for 15 min to an hour.  
5. 5 minutes before serving, stir in the crushed peppercorn, sesame oil, and chopped scallion tops. 

*Beef marinade:
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs dark soy sauce
1/4 cup shaoxing rice wine
1/4 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp sesame oil

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Atlanta, Georgia: Flying Biscuit, Vortex, & Majestic Diner

Over the weekend I visited Atlanta, Georgia for the second time. I stayed with a good friend Vic near Emory, who I also had the pleasure of traveling to IstanbulBudapestVienna, and Prague with a couple winters ago. Knowing that I love food, he planned an ambitious schedule packed with southern food and Atlanta favorites. 

After getting into Atlanta well past midnight the evening before (for the record, it was a 475 mile drive from New Orleans), I needed a strong breakfast to get me going. We picked up Fukuko, who was visiting from Hong Kong for TomorrowWorld, and headed straight to brunch at The Flying Biscuit. 

I ordered the High Flyer, a generous feast featuring two sunny side up eggs, chicken breakfast sausage, "creamy dreamy grits," plus an organic oatmeal pancake topped with warm peach compote. I of course had it with an unsweetened iced tea and a unexpectedly 16oz pineapple mimosa. I don't know how anyone finishes this by themselves. And though the biscuit was good, the star of the show was most definitely the creamy dreamy grits. I could have had 3 bowls of that plain. Runner up is their whole wheat French toast that's served with homemade raspberry sauce and honey cream. 

The Flying Biscuit
1655 McLendon Ave NE
Atlanta, GA

 I had no idea that there was such a strong street art culture in Atlanta. I was so impressed with the quality of the murals and disappointed that New York is quickly losing this culture. Vic showed us Krog Street tunnel and we took a walk around Cabbagetown, where we admired the colorful houses and stunning painted walls. When I have the money, I will most definitely be commissioning murals all over Manhattan. 

Vic works at The Neon Company, who produces many of the iconic neon signs seen around Atlanta. This is another reason why ATL was amazing. I don't know why, but I've always loved the aesthetic of neon signs and here, they're everywhere. It was closed over the weekend, but I will definitely need to stay on a weekday next time to check out his work space. 

Good thing Vic brought us for a walking tour of Cabbagetown to work off that breakfast because dinner at Vortex is no joke. After an hour long wait, I was utterly famished. 

We started with the fried zucchini slices, which were undoubtedly A+. Who knew zucchini would taste so good with ranch dressing? Fukuko and I both ordered the Steak House, a half pound sirloin beef burger topped with sauteed onions and mushrooms, swiss and cheddar cheese, and Vortex steak sauce. I had mine medium rare topped with an egg and served with sweet potato waffle fries (skip the marshmallow goo sauce). Fukuko ordered hers with their perfectly crispy tater tots. Vic toyed with the idea of getting another Coronary Bypass burger (think bacon plus cheese plus egg) , but opted for the Holy Guacamole burger instead. 

It was tough, and no one talked for the entire meal. But we did it. 

Fun fact: I drank two 32 ounce unsweetened iced teas at this meal. 

Vortex Bar & Grill
438 Moreland Ave NE
Atlanta, GA

Our final stop at 4am on Sunday was Majestic Diner. It was between this or Waffle House, and we opted for the slightly classier definitely pricier Majestic Diner. You can see the diner from a far with its iconic neon exterior lighting up the entire street corner. 

Inside, this place was packed. We actually had to wait 20 minutes for a table. But let's be real, who doesn't want breakfast food all day? 24 hours is definitely the way to go for a diner. Fukuko and I shared a grilled ham and cheese, hashbrowns (a la Waffle House style), and grits. I of course had to order a vanilla milkshake. It's the only way to go. Vic's friends had a delicious looking patty melt and a corned beef hash. Solid choices all around. 

With only one full day in Atlanta, I'd say we did a real good job packing in three full meals, albeit it took us a span of 17 hours. We actually needed all of it to fuel us for the long night out. And I woke up hungry. But next time (yes, I'm for sure going back again) I definitely have to hit up Gladys Knight's for some fried chicken and waffles. 

Majestic Diner
1031 Ponce De Leon Ave NE
Atlanta, GA