During the days of Sprouts, I used to give “lectures” to guests regarding food consciousness. Few were those who are aware of what goes into their food, most of those were the ones who cook.
We have not been very aware of our nutrition except for the past few decades. We have been, and somehow still are, subject to what we’re told to eat and not to. With the rise of ready-made and processed foods, we ate without knowing what is going into the food. It was only until recent times that some of us became aware of what goes into what we’re eating.
When I was young(er), I didn’t really care about what goes into ready-made foods. It was only because of my curiosity, then later for the blog, and now as a cook, that I pushed my awareness even further. It is only until one starts reading ingredients, and reads more about them (THANK THE INTERNET) that one realizes the real danger that lies between the ingredients and hides undercover using names we don’t notice instantly. Once we know what we’re having, it is our choice to eat it or not.
Before going on with Sprouts, I read this article about how food is not healthy, not even Kale. Food is supposed to make you healthy. Food is nutritious, and that makes YOU healthy. Hence I used Nutritious Food instead of Healthy for sprouts. Recently, I have listened to a podcast by Burnt Toast by Food52 under the title Fat Isn’t Bad, Stupid is Bad with Michael Ruhlman, the writer of the aforementioned article, as a guest to talk about food conciousness.
Michael speaks of knowing what you’re eating. He says that if you want to eat junk food, eat it, just be aware that what you’re eating is junk food. Know that you’re having chemical additives that compensate for the lack of flavor in some “diet” and “low fat” products. Reading labels and ingredients list is essential in this. We need to educate ourselves to understand what we’re consuming. This is why I love preparing things myself. I enjoy them more, and I have more for a lower price, and I can convince myself that they are lower in calories and fat to eat more. At least I am aware that I’m over-eating and I know why I’m getting fatter.
Speaking of food and additives, I love Asian food. It has been a common ingredient in the food to have MSG, mono sodium glutamate (an additive that tricks the tongue and brain that the food tastes good). The new wave of Asian restaurants promote not using MSG in their food.
My favorite Asian restaurant in Beirut is Jaï. I don’t get tired of their fusion dishes and menu.
Sometimes at home I feel like indulging in Asian flavors, so I cook myself something really flavorful. This is an orange chicken dish that is easy to prepare, cooked with blood oranges while they’re still in season. Try it yourself!
Asian Blood Orange Chicken
- 1 kg chicken breasts
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup corn starch
- Salt, black pepper, nutmeg, white pepper
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 carrots
- 4 stalks green onions
- 2 tbsp sesame
- The sauce
- 1 cup fresh blood orange juice
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 2 tbsp corn starch
- 2 cloves garlic, grated
- 1 tbsp ground ginger, or 2 tbsp fresh grated ginger
- Boiled Basmati rice
- Mix the flour and corn starch and season with salt and pepper, nutmeg and white pepper in a large bowl
- Cut the breasts into small strips and toss in the flour mixture
- Cut the vegetables into bite-sized nuggets, as big as the chicken and set aside
- For the sauce, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and set aside
- In a large pot, heat half of the vegetable oil, enough to cover the bottom by half a centimeter. Adjust the heat to prevent burning the chicken
- Shake the chicken strips to remove excess flour and carefully drop into the hot oil. To avoid burning yourself, always lower the chicken close to you and lay it away from you. This prevents the oil from splashing on you
- Working in batches, brown the chicken on both sides, then remove and drain on paper towel
- In the same pot, add more oil if needed, stir-fry the carrots first until soft on the outside, around 5 minutes. Add the peppers and toss for a minute or two. Add the chicken and toss to mix
- Stir the sauce and carefully pour it into the pot and stir well. Bring the mixture to a boil on medium heat, stirring constantly until it starts to boil and thicken
- Serve with boiled rice and garnish with sesame seeds and green onions