Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Kimchi—The What Else—Gochujang

Another well-known Korean specialty ingredient to look for while surfing Korean websites or walking through an Asian market is gochujang.

Gochujang is a dark red chili paste with a savory, sweet, and spicy flavor and a thick and sticky texture.

This fermented condiment is made from the following ingredients…

  1. Red Chili Powder…This chili powder is made from Korean chili peppers that are spicy yet sweet, providing a healthy amount of lingering heat that’s not burn-your-mouth spicy.
  2. Glutinous Rice Powder…This is what gives gochuchang its touch of sweetness. This rice powder can also be substituted with normal short-grain rice, barley, whole wheat kernels, jujubes, pumpkin, and sweet potato. A small amount of sweetener—such as sugar, syrup, or honey—is also sometimes added.
  3. Meju (fermented soybean) powder
  4. Yeotgireum (barley malt powder)
  5. Salt

Making gochuchang is a long and arduous task that involves fermenting the mixture for years in earthenware vessels called “jangdok” on an elevated stone platform, called a “jangdokdae” in the backyard. That’s the reason that I’m not adding a recipe for it.

Instead buy it from reputable sources such as Chung Jung One or Momofuku.

Tips For Choosing Gochujang

  • Add a teaspoonful at a time. A little goes a long way because of its spiciness.
  • Check the package before purchasing to see how hot it is, kinda like buying salsa.
  • Keep an eye open when searing or grilling meats that have been marinated with gochujang that contains sugar because the meat will have a tendency to burn easily.
  • Look for gochujang that only contains the above ingredients…no corn syrup, starch syrup or hydrolyzed vegetable protein.
  • Look for it to be  sold in small, red square tubs.
  • Store in the fridge once you open it.
  • Thin your gochujang with a liquid of some sort–such as sesame oil, crushed garlic, sugar, soy sauce—because the thick texture of gochujang makes it a bit difficult to use straight up.
  • Unlike sriracha or Tabasco, gochujang is too aggressive to be used as a finishing sauce.

Uses for Gochujang

Butter…Gochuchang can be paired with “everyday” foods—such as steak, tacos, and burgers. One way of doing this is to make your own gochuchang butter.

Marinade…Another common use is as a marinade for meat…such as this bulgogi recipe from Crazy Korean Cooking.

Sauces…Gochuchang can also be used in condiments, salad dressings, and dipping sauces…such as Ssamjang, a thick, spicy paste made from gochujang, sesame oil, onion, garlic, green onions, and optionally brown sugar….as in this recipe from Fine Cooking.

Stews and Soups…One of the most common uses of gochujang is by the spoonful to add depth to stews and soups and stews…such as this Gochuchang Soup from Little Corner of Mine.

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Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Bok Choy—The Which?

So now that we have learned more about what bok choy actually is and why bok choy can be an important food for us, how do we know that we are choosing the best bok choy that we could possibly buy?First of all, bok choy should be found in the refrigerated section of the produce aisle because warm temperatures cause the leaves to wilt and negatively affect its flavor.

In fact, bok choy is one of the few vegetables that, even though available throughout the year, reaches its peak availability from the middle of winter through the beginning of spring.

Seems kind of obvious that we never want to purchase any type of produce that has wilted leaves, but what else should we look for when buying bok choy?

Leaves…The leaves of bok choy should be firm and brightly colored. Check the bok choy for any signs of browning, yellowing, and small holes.

Stems…The stems of bok choy should be moist and hardy.

Organic…Buying produce that is certified organic can greatly reduce the likelihood of exposure to contaminants such as pesticides and heavy metals. To make sure that you are buying organic produce, always look for the USDA organic logo.

Bok choy can stay fresh in the refrigerator for about one week if stored properly. Store bok choy in a plastic storage bag in the crisper section of your refrigerator.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Bok Choy…The Why?!

 

1. The Serving Size…The first thing to consider when starting to weed out your pantry or fridge in the game called “What Not to Eat” is the “Serving Size.”

Serving Size cannot be ignored…sad, but true…

Knowing all of the nutritional value in the Serving Size given on the actual package does not do a bit of good if you’re not actually eating the size that they supposedly tell you that you’re supposed to be eating. If you eat the whole entire box of Cap’N Crunch cereal, you have obviously eaten way more calories than the number of calories that they had expected you to have eaten. And not only have you eaten way more calories, you have also jacked up all those other supposedly important nutrient numbers also…

The nutritional value of bok choy here is based on a serving size of 1/2C.

 

 

2. Calories...Calories provide a measure of how much energy you get from a serving of this food. Needless to say, far too many Americans consume way more calories than they could ever actually need. Yet they hardly ever even come close to meeting the “official” recommended intakes for the many different nutrients that our bodies need.

As a general reference for looking at calorie content when looking at a Nutrition Facts label, remember that…Any food item containing somewhere around forty calories is considered to be a low-calorie food item…Any food item containing somewhere around a hundred calories is considered to be “average” or moderate…Any food item containing four hundred calories or more is considered a high-calorie food item.

One-half cup of bok choy contains 13 calories.

 

3. “Limit These” Nutrients...The next section of the nutrition label details the specific nutrients contained in the food item.

The actual specific nutrients listed first are those nutrients that all of us generally eat in adequate amounts. These are shown as a percentage, showing what percentage of the amount of the recommended nutrients that food item contributes to your daily diet.
The nutrients included in this section are carbohydrates, fat, protein, cholesterol, sodium, and sugar.

  • a,  Carbohydrates…One-half cup serving of bok choy contains two grams of carbohydrates.
  • b. Fats…No daily recommendation has been formally established by the FDA at this point, so your main goal is to limit “bad” fats and get enough “good” fats…Bok choy contains absolutely zero fat.
  • c. Protein…Unless a food item makes a claim regarding its protein content—such as being “high in protein” or is marketed specifically for infants and children under four years old, this nutrient is often now shown. This is not a big deal because studies show that most of us actually do get enough protein in our diets already.
  • d. Sugar…No set-in-stone daily value has actually been established for sugar either, but obviously it’s important to limit the amount of sugar you consume each day.
    The amount of sugar shown will include both any naturally-occurring sugar and those sugars actually added to a food or drink. Check the ingredient list for specifics on added sugars…

 

 

4. “Get Enough of These” Nutrients…The nutrients listed next are those nutrients that hardly any of us generally eat in adequate amounts. These nutrients include fiber, vitamins,

a. Fiber…Fiber helps keep the digestive system running smoothly—bulking up stools, ensuring the smooth passage of food through the intestinal tract, stimulating gastric and digestive juices so nutrients are absorbed in the most efficient and rapid way, promoting healthy bowel function, and reducing the symptoms from conditions like constipation and diarrhea.

The recommended daily amount of fiber that each of us should be eating each day is 25 grams.

Bok choy provides one gram, or 4%DV of dietary fiber.

 

 

b.  Vitamins…Bok choy contains about half of your daily requirement for saeveral different nutrients—including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and vitamin B6.

  • Vitamin A…89%…essential for a properly functioning immune system.
  • Vitamin B1…(Thiamine)…3%
  • Vitamin B2)…Riboflavin…6%
  • Vitamin B3…Niacinn…3%
  • Vitamin B5…Pantothenic acid…2%
  • Vitamin B6…15%
  • Vitamin B9…Folate —prevents certain birth defects like spinal bifida and neural tube defects….may also help prevent strokes….17%
  • Vitamin C…75%…vitamin C is an antioxidant that shields the body from free radicals.
  • Vitamin K…..44%…Vitamin K helps with blood clotting and maintaining strong bones and teeth.

 

 

c.  Minerals…

  • Calcium…11%…The recommended daily value for calcium is 1,000mg.
  • Copper…Copper helps strengthen your bone density and your blood vessels, helps keep your nerves healthy, and boosts your immune system.
  • Iron..6%…A diet low in iron can make you feel tired and have little or no energy. The RDA for iron is…13.7–15.1 mg/day in children aged 2–11 years…16.3 mg/day in children and teens aged 12–19 years…19.3–20.5 mg/day in men…17.0–18.9 mg/day in women older than 19
  • Magnesium…5%
  • Manganese…8%
  • Potassium…5%…essential for healthy muscle and nerve function, strengthening your bone density, helping relax your blood vessels and arteries and reducing your risk of circulatory problems—such as blood clotting, heart attacks, hypertension, high blood pressure, strokes.
  • Sodium…4%
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Bok Choy…The What?!

Another leafy green vegetable that type 2 diabetics should consider adding to their diets is bok choy.

Bok choy has been cultivated in China for more than five thousand years and has played a large part not only in its cuisine, but also in traditional Chinese medicine.

Bok choy is a common ingredient in the foods cooked in the Philippines and Vietnam, even though most other countries rarely even use it as an ingredient, if at all.

Bok choy—sometimes referred to as white cabbage, mustard cabbage, celery cabbage, Chinese white cabbage, Chinese mustard, and white celery mustard—-is in fact a member of the cabbage family. In fact, the name “bok choy” is derived from the Cantonese words “bai cai,” which means “white cabbage.”

However, bok choy doesn’t look like a typical cabbage at all. Bok choy more closely resembles celery.

Nor does bok choy look like any other cruciferous vegetables—such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts—which form “heads” in their more mature plant stages.

Instead bok choy has smooth, dark green leaf blades that form a cluster similar to mustard greens or celery—resembling Romaine lettuce on top and a large celery on the bottom.

Even though we usually only envision the typical variety of bok choy found in local grocery stores, there are over twenty varieties of bok choy available.

A few of these varieties are…

  • Baby bok choy…a miniaturized version of bok choy that can often be found in Asian and Chinese supermarkets
  • Chinensis bok choy…do not form heads and have smooth, dark green leaf blades, much like mustard greens or celery
  • Choy sum…also known as “Chinese flowering cabbage,” has light green leaves and tiny yellow flowers, typically sold as trimmed leaves and stalks of choy sum instead of the whole plant, more expensive variety of bok choy
  • Mibuna Early, Canton, and Ching Chang—bok choy varieties that feature green spoon-shaped leaves and slightly flattened white stalks
  • Purple Hybrid—variety of bok choy with purple leaves
  • Shanghai Green and Green Boy—variety of bok choy that have stalks that are various shades of green

This leafy vegetable has a light, sweet flavor and a crispy, crunchy texture.

Bok choy is slowly becoming more and more popular here in American cuisine.

Bok choy can be used in many different ways—such as salads, soups and stir-fries.

So keep reading to learn what the nutritional benefits of bok choy are and for recipes to help you enjoy adding bok choy to your grocery list.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Leaves of Grass—and Bok Choy and Butterhead and Romaine

Growing up in the Deep South, I never thought that I would actually enjoy eating, much less, cooking…things like turnip greens or collard greens.

 

But now I actually enjoy eating them…(especially when they’re served with lots and lots of bacon, but more on that later)…

 

In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that adults consume at least three cups of dark green vegetables each week.

Thankfully, there are several varieties of leafy greens out there…

I find the idea of eating three cups of mustard greens or collard greens still repulsive, but my Mom would be so glad that I actually do eat them now instead of feeding to the dog while she wasn’t looking.

So which ones should you choose and how do you use these before they sit too long in your food rotter…

All leafy greens are packed with important and powerful nutrients, and most can also be found year round. This makes adding them to your menu for the week quite an easy task.

As far as nutritional value, all leafy greens are typically low in calories and fat….and high in protein per calorie, dietary fiber, vitamin C, pro-vitamin A carotenoids, folate, manganese and vitamin K.

Studies have shown that eating leafy greens may lower your risk of type 2 diabetes by 14 percent, a fact that I wish that I’d known when I first got married 32 years ago.

Leafy greens have also been shown to improve your eyesight, bone health and skin elasticity while helping your blood to clot normally.

And even better, there are so many more varieties that can keep you from feeling like you are simply eating the required bowl of bagged salad every single night, night after night…

Some options that we will be taking a look at are…

  • Arugula
    Beet Greens
    Bok Choy
    Boston (Butterhead)
    Broccoli
    Cabbage
    Collard Greens
    Edible Green Leaves
    Endive
    Iceberg
    Kale
    Microgreens
    Mustard Greens
    Rapini (Broccoli Rabe)
    Romaine
    Spinach
    Swiss Chard
    Turnip Greens
    Watercress