Recipe Roundup: Sweet Cucumber Kimchi

Sweet Cucumber Kimchi

I’ve always had a thing for sweet kimchi. I like the spicy stuff too, but it doesn’t settle well for me. A restaurant near here makes great kimchis using sprouts and cucumbers. As I’ve been messing around with ideas in an effort to increase my vegetable intake (an area of my diet that is sorely lacking), I remembered this all-vegetable dish.

Unfortunately for me, a quick Google search soon proved that most people make a spicy, or pseudo-spicy, kimchi similar to the standard Korean variations.

So where to go from here? Among all of the recipes I found, I was able to glean the base items that go into a good kimchi recipe: vinegar, salt, veggies (usually greens and legumes), and spices. Below is my variation based on that summary. I also had to tweak the seasoning to suit what I happened to have in my spice rack.

Notes:

  • Use as much, or as little, of each vegetable as you wish. The main goal is that everything should be able to be submerged in the liquid. Below is simply what I used given the size of my dish.
  • The last two seasonings were just what I had lying around that complimented the flavour I wanted. They may not work for your version, so feel free to substitute whatever seasonings work best for you. Chili peppers and other spicy seasonings are usually popular.
  • Balance of sweetness to the bitterness of the vinegar is subjective. What I’ve listed is what made the balance I was looking for but it may be way too bitter still, so adjust accordingly.
  • Cucumber kimchi does not keep long. Consume within a day or two of making it.

Ingredients

  • 3 mini cucumbers, sliced into thin sticks
  • 1 orange bell pepper, sliced into thin sticks
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • garlic to taste
  • mustard powder to taste

Instructions

  1. Pour vinegar into an airtight-capable bowl or jar.
  2. Chop veggies and add them to the vinegar.
  3. Add in sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring and tasting until desired balance of sweetness is reached.
  4. Add other seasonings as desired.
  5. Chill in fridge for at least 30-60 minutes.
  6. Serve in liquid, chilled.

I’ve usually had this served with the liquid to me but, from my research, it seems to be dependent on the cook’s preference. If you wish to remove the liquid, be sure to let your veggies soak for at least an hour, or overnight.

Sweet Cucumber Kimchi

Sweet Cucumber Kimchi with Green Onion and Orange Bell Pepper.

This dish is a great compliment to a hearty warm meal and it can be very refreshing in the warm summer days. I hope you enjoy!

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Recipe Roundup: Quinoa with Spiced Meat and Cheddar Cheese

All Mixed Together

In looking for a healthy carb option for my lunches while I’m on a higher intensity training schedule, I came across this recipe. Given what I had in my kitchen at the time (10:00 pm on a Sunday night) I modified it to suit my needs.  It still worked out really well so after encouragement from Vicky, I’ve decided to post it. For those who checked out the above link, you’ll notice my recipe is different. The ingredients below are what I used in my variation. I love garlic and cheese, so please keep that in mind. The original called for 2 gloves of garlic and 1/2 cup of cheese. In my second batch I also used peppers.

For me, this makes 2 filling lunches (not 4-6 servings as per the original). Probably for most people 4 would be the most reasonable amount of servings but you may find that on the small side if that’s the whole meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 package of mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 pound ground meat
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon Italian spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped or 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar

Instructions

  1. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil.
  2. Add quinoa and simmer with a lid for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    Uncooked quinoa in boiling water.

    Continue with the recipe but remove from heat when the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa will be soft but chewy with each grain looking like it has popped open.

    Quinoa Done

    How quinoa looks fully cooked.

  3. While the quinoa is cooking, warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  4. Add the onion and mushrooms.
  5. Saute until soft.
  6. Add the ground meat, cumin, Italian spice and cinnamon.
  7. Continue cooking until the meat is done. Drain excess fat or liquid as needed.
  8. Add the garlic (or garlic salt) to the meat and saute 1-2 minutes.

    Meat Cooking

    The meat and veggies mixture.

  9. Remove the meat from heat
  10. Mix the meat and quinoa together.
  11. Add the cheddar and stir until mixed.
  12. Serve warm or store for later.

This works out well for me as a quick and protein-full lunch option. I am rarely hungry for the second half of my day and well into my work out, which has always been a challenge. Enjoying a warm meal that tastes good re-heated is also a bonus. I would recommend serving it warm (either fresh or re-heated). Although I do enjoy it cold as well, I’m sure many would prefer it warmed up, if possible.

I like to experiment with the veggies and seasonings a bit each time so feel free to sub in what works for you. I also usually like to put my garlic in before the meat or split it with half before and half after. If you prefer, you could also add in a sauce or stronger spices. This recipe lends itself to adaptations. Sorry there isn’t a prettier final picture. It was going into lunch containers, not onto my plate (sadly).

All Mixed Together

Quinoa with Spiced Meat and Cheddar Cheese.

Recipe Roundup – Protein Loaf

Protein Loaf

First, let me preface this by saying, don’t judge the recipe by the title. While I don’t think the title sounds bad (I’m a big fan of loaves of all sorts), most people I have mentioned this recipe to find it a big turnoff.

This recipe is a great recipe for those of us who are trying to find low-carb options but who have a weakness for baked goods like muffins, cookies, and banana breads. The fact it also has high protein is just a plus!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of banana, mashed (It helps if the banana is very ripe)
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/4 plain Greek yogurt or cottage cheese (I subbed in the Greek yogurt as I don’t like cottage cheese)
  • 1/2 cup of oats
  • 2 cups of walnut, ground (I found it’s easier to buy walnuts and grind them myself)
  • 1/4 tsp of baking soda
  • 150 grams of whey protein powder (I used chocolate, but the recipe calls for vanilla. You’ll need to check how much your protein powder scoop holds, it varies from brand to brand, but 150 grams is usually 4-6 scoops)
  • Olive oil cooking spray

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit.
  2. Combine the oats, ground walnut, protein powder, and baking soda in a medium – large bowl. Stir until evenly mixed.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and then combine with the Greek yogurt (or cottage cheese) and mashed banana.
  4. Slowly add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients until evenly incorporated. This will have a sticky, slightly clumpy consistency.
  5. Lightly coat a 9×9 (I used 8×8) inch baking pan with the olive oil spray and transfer the mixture to the pan.
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the edges (it may not come out fully clean from the middle, but it will finish once removed from the oven).
    • Note: Be careful not to overcook (ie. do not try to get a toothpick to come out clean from the middle, etc.) as this recipe will dry out very quickly if left in the oven too long.
  7. Let cool, slice, and enjoy or store in the fridge or freezer, individually wrapped.

I found this recipe extremely good, even if my first try at it turned out a little dry as I was aiming for a clean toothpick from the middle. I cut it into 4 big squares and take it for lunch or breakfast at the office. Since I had 4 scoops of protein in my mix, each serving comes to about 30-35 grams of protein, which is perfect.

Protein Loaf

2 quarters of my protein loaf. Each has 30-35 grams of protein and makes a very fulfilling meal.

I was very pleasantly surprised to find I could cut flour out of my loaf baking as well as sub in protein powder. Baked goods are one of the things I miss the most with this new low-carb/no-starch eating style, so this is a big find that will allow me to still enjoy some of what I had to cut out. I’m messing around with substitutions like peanuts or almonds in place of walnuts, and coconut or other fruits either in place of, or in addition to, the banana.

If you give this a try, or plan to, feel free to let me know how it goes and your thoughts on the recipe! I’d love to hear how others find it.