Monthly Archives: April 2013

The Lean Green Bean

So I participated for the first time in the Lean Green Bean’s Foodie Penpals Program this past month. Basically, after finding out the dietary preferences of the other person, I sent someone a food package worth about $15 and someone else sent me another package. It felt like Christmas. H eagerly watched me open my package from Alexis at Lexi Bites. He was as excited as I was to find out what was inside.

DSC_0347Here’s what was in the box:

Sans Sucre Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix– This looks delicious and healthy. Can it be true? Low in sugar and fat?! Can’t wait to bake this for the family.

BBQ flavored Popchips– If you have never tried this, then you must. It’s a great alternative to BBQ flavored potato chips. I love Popchips (so do my kids)!

Ines Rosales Rosemary and Thyme Savory Olive Oil Tortas– These were awesome! I liked these by themselves even though it says you can serve these with cheese. You can really taste the rosemary, thyme, and olive oil.

10 Minutes Farro from Trader Joe’s– Can’t believe I live so close to Trader Joe’s and have never tried this!

Justin’s Organic Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups– Divine! I love peanut butter and chocolate.

Duplo Chocolate Bar– Chocolate, wafer, hazelnut cream. Need I say more? Yum.

Raw Honey from Y.S. Eco Bee Farms– This is like a gourmet candy. I can eat this by the spoonfuls.

Like Alexis said in her card from her package, it truly was a nice mix of “sweet and savory,” “healthy and sinful.” It was a great first experience! Thanks, Alexis!



Things that made me smile this week:

1. Watching my little girl dance at her ballet stage rehearsals in her recital costume. Another ballet mom told me how she cried her eyes out at her eldest daughter’s first ballet recital. Now I can understand why. Looking forward to her recital next week!

2. Looking at a picture of the Cinderella castle from Magic Kingdom at Disney World. I know, I’m a kid at heart. Growing up on the west coast, I’ve frequented Disneyland. It was my first time to Disney World and I loved it. I can’t wait to go back. My husband thinks I’m crazy.

3. My new baby came home this week! I am loving it in my house! (Not an actual baby, but a piano. :))

4. I added a new place I want to eat at the next time I travel. Although it’s a bit far, I do miss my dear friend L who lives there. She has been an inspiration and a great encouragement to me.

5. I am a fan of anything hazelnuts and chocolate. My thoughtful friend B came over with a box of chocolate rochers from Fauchon this week. They were divine. My kids thought so, too.


We brought the kids to Disney World last week and ate at a lot of places catered to tourists. We were limited with time and two younger kids, so we had to eat at convenient places like eateries inside the theme parks or tourists-oriented chain restaurants. I was so ready to eat a light, home-cooked meal by the end of our trip. I was sick of fried, greasy, bland-tasting meals. It reminded me of my parents that no matter where they are in the world, they somehow always find their ways to a Chinese restaurant after a few days of trying out local cuisine. I suppose it’s comfort food for them. I still remember eating Chinese food in Paris instead of eating more of those crusty French baguettes. Those Asian parents! I suppose I’m becoming one like them. I was craving a light, home-cooked Asian meal. Ha!

I like to keep a bag of frozen salmon fillets from Costco in my freezer for quick (emergency) meals. They thaw fairly quickly and I love how they are individually-packaged. I can just take out how much I need. Yes, I know. Bad for the environment, but saves me lots of trouble.

Chinese people say ginger and scallions together will eradicate the “fishiness” of fish. This dish makes my house smells so good. I can’t stand lingering sautéed onion smell, but I love the combination of ginger and scallions together with rice wine.

This is a super-easy dish to make. Just put it together and pop in the oven. You’ll have a healthy meal in 15 minutes.



serves 4


4 (7 ounce) boneless salmon fillets

4 inch ginger piece, peeled and julienned

4 scallions, julienned

1 teaspoon rice wine

1 teaspoon salt

4 large pieces of parchment paper



1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Place the parchment paper pieces onto a large baking sheet, then place individual salmon fillets onto parchment paper. One fillet on each piece of parchment paper.

3. Salt the individual salmon fillets front and back. Divide the julienned ginger and scallion equally to four portions and place on top of the salmon fillets. Sprinkle rice wine onto the top of each salmon fillets.


4. Seal the parchment packages tightly. Place in oven and bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until cooked through.

5. Carefully open the package or rip through center of parchment package before serving.

Things that made me smile this week:

1. The rain. It washed away a good amount of pollen outside last night. Pollen count has been record high for the past few days around here in Atlanta. It’s scary to go outside because everything was (and is again today) covered in a film of yellow pollen. Ugh.

2. The possibility of replacing the velvety texture of chocolate with fruit juice instead of fat sounds almost too-good-to-be-true. I want some of that. right. now.

3. Thinking about my the looks on my kids’ faces when we visit “the happiest place on earth” soon.

4. Completing my 4 mile run this morning when I completely didn’t feel like even waking up nor moving my body.

5. Reconnecting with an old high school friend this week. I talked on the phone for 1.5 hours! I don’t think I’ve talked that long on the phone in a long time.

Happy Friday!


You can find this dish everywhere in Taiwan. It’s another Taiwanese comfort-food.

Taiwanese people take their aromatics seriously. It’s a lot of fried shallots, dried shrimps, dried Shiitake mushrooms, garlic…etc. As H says, you can have some serious “strong” breath afterwards. Always keep a pack of gum with you if you ever travel to Taiwan. :p Nevertheless, the fried shallots in this dish gives the dish an amazing flavor. You can buy this in most Asian supermarkets. In case you’re not sure what to look for, this is what it looks like:


I never really appreciated this dish growing up. In fact, I never really liked it before. This wasn’t until after having E and S when we started hosting quite a bit of large group gatherings at our house. A lot of times, it’s hard to prep for dinners let alone large groups of guests. My mom gave me this idea as she is quite gifted in the kitchen. It’s easy, inexpensive, and you can make ahead of time. In fact, the longer it simmers, the better it tastes. I will often serve this with a pot of freshly steamed rice and a side of veggies. The meat sauce is good as leftover the next day, too. It’s tasty with noodles, as the noodles will absorb some of the broth. My kids like this with macaroni pasta. I know. It’s quite weird, but macaronis are easier for them to eat then long noodles. It also makes it easier for me to clean up afterwards.

These days, anything that’s easy and make-ahead is a keeper around here.


Taiwanese Braised Meat Sauce

Serves 4-6



1 pound ground pork

1/2 cup soy sauce

2 cups water

1 tablespoon rice wine

3 tablespoons fried shallots



1. Brown the ground pork in a saute pan over medium high heat while breaking up the meat into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon or spatula. (I typically don’t use oil as the ground pork is quite fatty and will release oil as it cooks.)


2. When the meat is almost cooked-through, add water, soy sauce, rice wine, and fried shallots. Bring to a boil, cover, then simmer over low heat for approximately 30 minutes.


3. Serve over rice, noodles, or steamed/boiled veggies.


Did I say that I have a sweet tooth? If it was up to me, I’d be eating desserts all day long.

H and I are truly opposites in this regard, along with a list of many other things. He finds most desserts unappetizing, including chocolates. His idea of dessert is fruit. I know, it’s so healthy. Maybe that’s why he never really struggled with being overweight. It truly was a change to marry him. My mom used to keep our house stocked with sweets, especially since both my dad and my brother enjoy them as much as I did. Even now when I visit my parents, they would go out of their way to stock their house with my favorite desserts. All of my friends know how to woo me with chocolates. I am constantly pinning desserts that are like eye-candies on Pinterest that I know I can never keep around my house because I will just eat it all.

Unfortunately, the body can no longer handle it the way it used to work. I really think pregnancies really change your body. I can no longer eat the way I used to. The body really hangs onto those extra calories. It can be quite frustrating, especially when you feel like you’re trying your best to try to rid those extra pounds. I have since started looking for alternatives to satisfy those sweet cravings.

These cookies are irresistible and healthy, too. There are no added sugar, oil, or butter! They contain lots of good-for-you ingredients like carrots, almonds, and oats. It’s one of those sweets that I don’t feel so bad eating, or give them to my kids for breakfast. The plus side is this contains no eggs, so S can eat them! As for H, he will just continue to indulge in his stash of fruits.


Healthy Carrot Almond Cookies

(adapted from Whole Foods Market)

Makes approximately 24 cookies


1 cup almond meal or ground almonds

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 and 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup grated carrots

1 ripe banana, mashed

3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 cup raisins


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper.

2. In a bowl, combine almond meal or ground almonds, rolled oats, whole wheat flour, baking powder, and ground cinnamon.


3. In another large bowl, combine grated carrots, mashed banana, and applesauce. Slow add the dry ingredients from the other bowl into the wet ingredients. Mix well. Stir in raisins.


4. Drop rounded tablespoonfuls onto lined cookie sheets, at least one inch apart. Gently flattened top with spoon.

5. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes or when cookies are slightly brown. Remove and cool on wire rack.


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