The classic red gems known as strawberries are this week’s feature of my dehydration project series.
I was one of those kids who always wanted the strawberry flavored thing: strawberry lollipop, strawberry chapstick, strawberry gum ball, and even the strawberry flavored fluoride at the dentist office. Ironically enough, I like strawberries in every form except eaten raw. I know, it seems ludicrous! I have internally battled with this myself. I love strawberry ‘everything’ so much, so I don’t know why it is difficult for me to love eating them in their most plain and natural state. I have tried several times to like them raw but it is something I can’t force. Fortunately, there are many other ways to enjoy these delicious delights.
That sets the precedent for today’s dehydration project trial: dried strawberries. Dried strawberries are the perfect little snack or can be added as a nice touch to cereals or homemade granola bars.
The Dehydration Project: Strawberries
- Ripe Strawberries (it’s best to get them when they are in season)
- First wash the strawberries and remove the hull (the green part)
- Cut into 1/8-1/4 inch slices. Be consistent with the width to ensure they dry evenly.
- Set the dehydrator to 135 degrees F. It took me 8 hours for mine to dry to a nice crispness- but I think a range from 6-10 hours would be appropriate. You will need to monitor them until your desired state is achieved.
- Let cool sufficiently- then store, eat plain, or add to cereal or granola
- My husband tried one and commented they need sugar if they are to be eaten plain. To satisfy some taste buds, a sweetener may need to be added if you are going to eat them like ‘chips’
- There is no need for any pre-treatment before drying- they keep their natural color just fine!
Pump up your routine with this decadent energy snack. These coconut cashew chews are a simple and scrumptious nom on the go.
I ascribe to the philosophy of “less is more” in pretty much all areas of life: interior design, speeches, blog posts (ha!), and definitely snacks. I love recipes that are easy and incorporate ingredients I already have on hand. These were my thoughts when I was creating these coconut cashew chews. I didn’t have to go on any extra grocery trips to make these and I am so happy with the end result! These noms are my new snacking sensation- Hope you enjoy!
Coconut Cashew Chews (Stephanie Thiel)
Makes: 9 one-inch balls
- 1/2 cup cashews
- 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
- 1/3 cup shredded coconut
- 2 Tbsp. light agave
- 1/2 cup oats, ground into a flour
- Blend the cashews and coconut oil in a food processor or high-speed blender. Blend until a coarse ‘butter’ forms.
- In a mixing bowl, place the newly formed cashew-coconut butter. Add the shredded coconut and agave- mix thoroughly.
- Add the oat flour (1/2 cup oats ground into a flour using a blender) to the mixture and mix until well combined. You may need to use your hands!
- Using a one-inch scoop (or your hands will work just fine!) take the dough and form bite-size balls.
- You can indulge immediately or freeze for later.
True homemade yogurt covered pretzels. Try out this sweet and salty delight!
I enjoy munching on yogurt-covered pretzels found at local grocery stores. However, they seem to have lots of sugar and other unpronunciable ingredients. This is why I have attempted to create a homemade yogurt covered pretzel recipe that is straightforward and good for you.
These pretzels are a great “nom nom” and the possibilities are endless! I add honey to my greek yogurt, however feel free to use your creativity! (And I would love to hear your ideas and experiments!) I think adding berries would add a nice pop of color to the coating. I will have to try that next time.
Also, I am dabbling with the idea of adding video tutorials to accompany some of my recipes. Here is my first one- I would love to know what you guys think! Enjoy!
Homemade Yogurt Covered Pretzels (Stephanie Thiel)
- 1 tray worth of pretzels (3 handfuls?)
- I prefer the “flat” pretzels (such as the ‘Pretzel Crisps’ brand, original flavor)
- 2/3 cup greek yogurt (plain or vanilla)
- 1 tsp. honey (optional)
- One sandwich bag and scissors (to create a drizzling pouch)
- Line a tray with parchment paper. Then lay out the pretzels evenly on top.
- In a small bowl, mix 2/3 cup yogurt with the honey until evenly combined. Then, spoon the yogurt mixture into a sealable ziploc bag.
- Cut off one of the bottom corners of the ziploc bag. Be sure to make a very small cut. This will allow the yogurt to drizzle out nicely.
- Slowly drizzle the yogurt across each pretzel.
- Place in the freezer. Freeze for at least one hour.
- Eat immediately. (They will melt! It is like a frozen treat)
Stuff your mouth with some of my Korean-style chicken lettuce wraps. I offer you my healthy take on a traditional Korean BBQ favorite.
Korean food is more than just eating dinner- it is a communal experience. I cannot count how many times I went out to eat Korean BBQ with various friends in Seoul. The only downside for me was that I don’t eat red meat, and Korean BBQ is always pork or beef. This motivated me to create a lettuce wrap recipe that involved chicken. And my mission was a success! These wraps are absolutely divine! I melt every time I get to eat this for dinner. If you are new to Korean cuisine, I encourage you to give this recipe a go!
Notes on how to set the table:
- Place the chicken in the middle of the table for all to share
- Each person gets their own individual rice bowl
- Each person also gets their own Ssamjang (dip) dish
- Serve the lettuce leaves on a platter or bowl. Your guests can rip off pieces of lettuce to make their individual wraps
- Chopsticks recommended 😉
Korean-style Chicken Lettuce Wraps (Stephanie Thiel)
- 3 skinless and boneless chicken breasts
- 1 cup coarsely chopped white or yellow onion (about 1 small onion)
- 3 Tbsp. teriyaki sauce
- 2 tsp. gochujang
- Olive oil for cooking
- Salt and pepper to taste
- One head romaine or red leaf lettuce
- Use a lettuce that is sweet (I don’t recommend green leaf because it is too bitter tasting)
- Ssamjang (Korean soybean paste) to dip
- White or brown rice (one bowl per person)
My favorite brand of teriyaki sauce to use:
To cook the chicken:
- In a large skillet, saute the onions (with olive oil) on low-medium heat. Cook for 3-4 minutes.
- Chop the chicken breasts into bite size pieces. Add to the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the teriyaki sauce and gochujang. Stir until the sauces are evenly distributed on all chicken pieces. Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes.
- Then, turn the stove heat to high. Cook until the liquids are cooked out and the chicken begins to nicely caramelize. (About 10 minutes).
Instructions to serve:
- Assemble and eat with your hands!
- Take a piece of lettuce (about 1/3 of a leaf).
- Place on the lettuce leaf about 1/2 Tbsp. rice, piece of chicken, and some Ssamjang paste.
- Wrap the lettuce around the contents. Then, proceed to stuff into your mouth.
- You of course can add more of less rice, chicken, or Ssamjang paste onto the lettuce wraps. You will learn what you want more or less of in each bite.
I would love to hear your feedback if you try this recipe! 🙂
Ssamjang (쌈장) – seasoned soybean paste; typically used as a dip in Korean BBQ/lettuce wraps; purely awesome and addicting
Ssamjang is one of my favorite foods! When I lived in Korea, my language skills were pretty novice. However, you bet I knew how to ask “쌈장 더 주세요?” (‘Can I please have more Ssamjang?’) at the restaurants. I crave this stuff.
If you make my Korean lettuce wraps, you really need Ssamjang. It adds so much flavor and texture. I never use Ssamjang to cook things, but use it often (probably too much!) on the side as a dip.
You can find Ssamjang at any Korean mart. It always comes in the green container. Available in all sizes.
Beans, beans, the magical fruit- the more you eat the more you… get to make delicious brownies! Presenting a moist and delectable brownie recipe that is vegan, flourless, and oozing with chocolate.
I keep my eyes open for dessert recipes that are simple to make and light to indulge in. Black bean brownies are awesome because you can omit flour, butter, and other unwanted ingredients. As I was scouring through vegan black bean brownie recipes, the ingredients seemed too foreign to me. I bet some are not even available in Hawaii (okay, I might be exaggerating, but Hawaii does get the short end of the stick sometimes).
Finally, I came across what looked like the perfect recipe. I found it on Chocolate-Covered Katie’s healthy dessert blog (link at end of recipe). I love it because the brownies are moist and not overpoweringly sweet or rich. The ingredients and method couldn’t be more straightforward. I hope you enjoy my slightly modified version of the recipe.
Happy Friday everyone!
Black Bean Brownies (Vegan + Flourless)
- 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup agave
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a food processor or high-power blender, combine all ingredients except the chocolate chips. Blend thoroughly until the mixture is well combined.
- When done blending, stir in the chocolate chips.
- Spray a baking pan with non-stick cooking spray (typically an 8×8 pan, but I used a round cake pan).
- Cook the brownies in the oven for 15-18 minutes (until firm).
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.
You can see the original recipe here from Chocolate-Covered Katie’s blog.
Satisfy your “salt” tooth with curly fries. Baked in an oven, these are a healthy and easy way to prepare sweet potatoes and satisfy that munchie bug!
Before you start visualizing deep fat-fried, crispy curly fries, keep in mind that these fries are baked to retain the natural goodness of the sweet potato. Therefore, they’re cut curly but not so crisp if you were to bread and fry them.
These sweet potato curly fries are as simple as it gets. You could try adding garlic, chili powder, or other spices to mix up the flavors though. Kick back and relax with some curly fries- you deserve it.
Baked Sweet Potato “Curly Fries”
- One large sweet potato
- Use a potato that has a very wide diameter. If the potato is too narrow, spiraling the curly fries will be challenging
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- Coarse sea salt
- Freshly ground peppercorn
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Peel the skin off of the potato.
- Use a spiralizer tool (see basic zoodles recipe for further spiralizer details) to shape the potato into “curly fry” shape. Use the largest attachment on the spiralizer.
- Place the curly fries onto a baking sheet.
- Drizzle with about 2 tsp. olive oil. Using your hands, mix the fries to ensure they are all coated with the oil.
- Generously sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.
- Bake for 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven to flip. Then, bake for another 10 minutes, or until golden brown. (About 20 minutes total cooking time)
- Let them cool and eat up! Nom nom nom 🙂
For the adventurous or the wanna-be adventurous mouth, I present kimchi fried rice. Spice up your everyday dinners with this popular Korean dish.
Let’s face it, Korean food can be intimidating- both to eat and to cook. Even though I lived in Korea, I will never be able to cook as well as the native grandmothers do. Some of the best food Korean food I have eaten was in the homes of the local people.
Now now… Don’t be discouraged. You can still cook Korean food in your own kitchen. Get your feet wet with this kimchi fried rice recipe. It’s straightforward, vegan, and only as spicy as you make it.
Just to note before you get started. Koreans are notorious for not measuring. There is no science or precision to this. I give good guidelines, but overall trust your taste buds.
Kimchi Fried Rice (Stephanie Thiel)
- 3-4 cups cooked brown or white rice
- 1 small white potato, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 2/3 cup kimchi, chopped
- 1/2 tsp. gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
- Use a little more if you like it spicy!
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
- Dash of sesame oil
- Olive oil (or other oil to cook with)
- Optional: seaweed
- I love to eat kimchi fried rice with a side of seaweed
METHOD: (pictorial version; an in-depth text-version following)
- Sauté the onion and carrot. (Medium heat, 5 min.)
- Add the potato and continue to sauté (5 min.)
- Add the chopped kimchi and continue to cook for about 5 min.
- Turn the heat on high.
- Add the cooked rice, gochujang paste, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Mix well.
- You may need to add some olive/cooking oil to allow the rice to fry.
- Enjoy! I like eating it with seaweed!
METHOD: (Text-version & details)
- In a large frying pan, sauté (in olive oil) the diced onion and carrot on medium heat. Cook for about 5 minutes.
- Next, add the diced potato to the pan. Continue to sauté for another 5 minutes, or until potato has softened and onions are caramelized.
- Chop the kimchi. Then add it to the pan. Fry on medium heat for about 5 minutes.
- Now it’s time to add the cooked rice to the pan. Crank the heat to high.
- After you have added the rice, add the gochujang paste, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Stir well so they are evenly distributed.
- At this point, you may need to drizzle some olive oil to better fry the rice.
- Fry for about 5 minutes, or until done.
Kimchi (김치) – fermented cabbage that is spicy and sour; a traditional Korean side dish; traditionally stored in underground jars for months; smart food preservation dish
Some things are iconic to South Korea- Drama shows. Samsung. Psy & Gangnam style- Kimchi is no exception!
You can always find a jar of kimchi stored in my fridge. Sometimes I eat it raw as a side dish, but usually I use it when I cook Korean food. The great thing about Kimchi is that it can be stored for a very long time.
A word of caution about kimchi- it stains! Take extra precautions when working with this delicious culinary wonder.
You can buy kimchi at any Korean mart. They come in little jars, all the way to big bucket size.
What’s more iconic to Hawaii than the flower lei? I’m kicking off my new Flowers 101 how-to series by showing you how to make your own lei!
Step #1: Prep
You will need the following materials to get started:
- 2 bunches of flowers
- The flowers you select need to have a sturdy stem/head.
- Plumerias and orchids are the most common flowers used for traditional Hawaiian leis. Carnations, daisies, and roses are also really popular varieties.
- I used 44 mini carnation flower heads for this lei. Buying two bunches was more than enough to accommodate this quantity.
- You can easily find affordable flower bunches at Costco or Sam’s Club wholesalers.
- Dental floss
- This is what you will string your lei with. You can use thread or fishing line instead, but I prefer dental floss because it is sturdy, easy to use, and convenient.
- Use scissors that are meant to cut flowers (Don’t ruin your paper scissors!)
- Large sewing needle
Step #2: Method Instructions
Now that you have all the materials needed, it’s time to start making the lei! Here is a simple step-by-step guide:
- Prep the flowers
- Cut off the stems of each flower. Leave about 1/4-1/2 inch (to ensure the flower head stays together!)
- Measure the dental floss/string
- Starting and ending from the back of your neck, measure how long you desire the lei to be. Once you have established how long you would like the length to be, double it. After you have doubled that length, add an additional 4-5 inches to ensure extra string at the end to tie it off.
- For example: if I wanted my lei to measure 40 inches around, I would need 85 inches of floss total. 40″ initial (doubled) + an extra 5″ = 85 inches
- Don’t stress! There is no exact science for this. Just make sure to have enough string/floss to work with. When in doubt, use more than anticipated. You can always cut off the excess.
- String the needle
- Take the floss and string it through the eye of your needle. Place the needle in the middle of the string. There will be equal lengths of floss on both sides of the needle.
- Tie the knot
- About 4-5 inches up one end of the string, tie a knot.
- You may need to tie several knots at the same spot so the knot is large enough to block flowers from sliding off.
- This is where the first flower of your lei will be strung to.
- Ensure there are a few inches of extra string here so you can tie off your lei when finished.
- Start stringing the flowers
- Take your needle and begin to string your first flower.
- Usually, the lei is strung through the flower head“face first”. Insert the needle into the face of the flower. Pull the needle through the stem end. Continue pulling both strings through until the flower is in place.
- The first flower will stop when it reaches the end knot.
- Continue to string flowers until the desired # of flowers is reached.
- As you string each flower, make sure to pull the entire string through. (You will always have one string hanging loose on one end of your needle)
- Finishing off the lei
- Once you are done stringing all flowers, tie the two ends of the floss/string together in a double knot (at least).
- There most likely will be excess string. You can cut off these loose ends after you have tied off the lei.
- Sport (or share) your new lei
- Congratulations! You made your very own lei. Sport this beauty around, or share it with someone special. Leis are a great way to show congratulations, support, and of course aloha!