Sunday, June 26, 2011

Quinoa with Spicy Vegetables & Cashews

Let me first start this post off by saying WAY TO GO NYC!!! We are moving in the right direction, equal rights for all!

Ok, now on to the recipe!

I was craving some delicious yet healthy Asian fare and wanted to use Ume Plum Vinegar, so I came up with this delightful little dish that took care of my hankering and left me wanting more!
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, I was supposed to save half for lunch the next day, but wound up taking it out later that night!

My friend Melissa Brown, who is a Holistic Nutrition Counselor here in Nashville, turned me on to Ume Plum Vinegar (pickled plum). Beyond being a versatile flavoring for dishes, it also has many health benefits.
Check out Melissa's website at: 

History Lesson on the Umeboshi Plum:

Besides their dramatic flavor, Japanese pickled plums have remarkable medicinal qualities. Their powerful acidity has a paradoxical alkalinizing effect on the body, neutralizing fatigue, stimulating the digestion, and promoting the elimination of toxins. This is the Far Eastern equivalent to both aspirin and apple; not only is it a potent hangover remedy for mornings after; more than that, an umeboshi a day is regarded as one of the best preventive medicines available.

Like many of Japan's ancient medicinal foods, the origin of the pickled plum is obscure. One theory traces it to China, where a dried smoked plum, or ubai, was discovered in a tomb built over two thousand years ago. The ubai is one of China's oldest medicines and is still used for a variety of medical purposes such as counteracting nausea, reducing fevers, and controlling coughs.

The oldest Japanese record of pickled plums being used as a medicine is in a medical text written about one thousand years ago. Umeboshi were used to prevent fatigue, purify water, rid the body of toxins, and cure specific diseases such as dysentery, typhoid, and food poisoning. Slowly, extensive folklore developed about umeboshi's ability to prevent and cure certain diseases.

During Japan's furious samurai period, which lasted through most of the Middle Ages, the pickled plum was the soldier's most important field ration. It was used to flavor foods such as rice and vegetables, and its high acidity made it an excellent water and food purifier, as well as an effective antidote for battle fatigue.

Almost 200 years ago, the Japanese began experimenting with ways to concentrate the healing powers of umeboshi. Finally, a dark liquid called bainiku ekisu (plum extract) was developed. To make the extract, sour green ume plums are slowly cooked down to obtain their most active ingredients in a highly concentrated form. The resulting dark, sticky, thick liquid is usually mixed with hot water and honey and is drunk as a tonic. Dried plum extract is also formed into pills, called meitan. In both plum extract and meitan, the plums' citric acid content is concentrated tenfold, which is equivalent to about twenty-five times the content found in lemon juice.

Many natural healers around the world feel that these concentrated forms of Japanese plums are among the world's most effective natural medicines.

Servings: 2
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 small yellow squash, thinly sliced into matchsticks
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced into matchsticks
1/2 medium small red onion, sliced thinly
1/2 red pepper, sliced thinly into strips
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 inch fresh garlic, minced
1/4 cup cashews, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon ume plum vinegar
2 tablespoons wheat-free tamari soy sauce
a pinch of salt & pepper
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes

Note: you can find the ume plum vinegar at your local health food store.
I know for sure they are available at The Turnip truck & Whole Foods.

Add 2 cups water, 1 cup quinoa, a pinch of salt and drizzle of olive oil in a pot and bring to a boil.
Bring down to a simmer stirring frequently until desired tenderness.
While the quinoa is cooking, in a large cast iron skillet or wok (if you have it) add your zucchini, squash, onion, red pepper, olive oil, sesame oil and a pinch of salt & pepper.
Saute the vegetables on high heat until they start to brown, add garlic, ginger, vinegar, soy sauce & chili pepper flakes and saute for a minute or two more.
Plate your bowl with a nice scoop of quinoa, add the vegetable mixture and top with chopped cashews.

Thanks & Enjoy!

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