Sesame Noodles with Ginger-Soy Braised Tofu and Steamed Broccoli

A Passion For Food…A Passion For Flavor! – Melanie daPonte

Melanie daPonte, Vegan Personal Chef

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Ever Since I found out my beloved Ma Po Tofu at PF Changs contains more than a full day’s worth of  sodium (3450 mg) I’ve been getting creative coming up with quick Asian lunch ideas.

I cook an extra serving or two of spaghetti at dinner time and store it in the fridge for later. That’s the first timesaver. With a few spare minutes in the kitchen I whip up an easy sesame sauce that is delicious over noodles, or just for dipping steamed broccoli. In about 2 micro- minutes I braise up some tofu to add some protein to my lunch. Toss in some steamed veggies and I’ve got a delicious, nutritious meal for lunch or dinner.

Quick Asian Noodle Sauce

Recipe courtesy Jenna Webber (www.eatliverun.com)

     ½ cup Tahini

       ¼ cup Canola oil

       ½ cup Hot water, as needed

       ¼ cup Sugar

       ¼

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Kung Pao Cauliflower

The OM Project.

The OM Project

This recipe by Circus Gardener’s Kitchen is similar to the spicy cauliflower wings I posted up a few weeks back. Treating cauliflower like little bites of chicken, you can season them, bake them, and grill them exactly the same way. Think of this as healthy General Gao’s and stick little tooth picks in them.

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets, each about 1½-2 cm
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 red chillies, seeds in, finely chopped
2 cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
4 spring onions, sliced, including green parts
50 g unsalted peanuts, dry fried and roughly chopped
2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
50 g organic cornflour

for the ma-la cooking oil

125 ml roasted peanut oil (use groundnut oil if not available)
2 star anise
1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
1 tsp dried chillies
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

for the marinade

100 ml organic…

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Radish, Broad Bean and Mint Salad

More healthy goodness from The Circus Gardner’s Kitchen!

The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

radish broad bean and mint salad

Supermarkets deploy a considerable amount of science to exert subtle influences over our shopping habits and impulses.

For example, all supermarkets now use planogram software to help with store layout in order to stimulate our purchasing behaviour and increase revenues. Essentially, planograms are used to determine where each product should be placed, not only to make the shelves we pass visually appealing but also to ensure each product is in the optimum place to maximise its sales revenue.

This usually means that more expensive items are placed around eye level. If you think about it, the science seems to work: how often do you find you need to reach up or bend down to pick up a product to put in your basket?

So important is the science behind planograms that some food manufacturers pay for “product placement”, in order to get their products placed in the most advantageous…

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Tuscan style bean and vegetable soup

I always get the tinned version, so I can’t wait to try this!

The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

tuscan bean and vegetable soup

When we think of pollinators, we tend to think about bees, but butterflies are another important insect in the cycle of plant life. They pollinate plants whilst searching for plant nectar and, just like bees, their numbers are in alarming decline.

In its report “The State of the UK’s butterflies 2015”, the Butterfly Conservation charity has recorded what it calls “major slumps” in the numbers of common butterfly species.

The decline is most noticeable on farmland, where the numbers of widespread UK butterfly species declined by 58% in the first nine years of this century. Research published in November suggested strong links between this decline and the use by farmers of neonicotinoid pesticides. These pesticides, subject to a temporary ban within the European Union, are also strongly implicated in the alarming decline in our bee populations.

In the midst of this gloomy overall picture there are some positive stories…

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asparagus, basil and sesame wraps

“The glorious English asparagus season arrived slightly earlier than usual this year, due to the mild winter and spring weather. This very simple dish is a good way to enjoy these delightful harbingers of all the wonderful seasonal produce yet to come.” ~ The Circus Gardener’s Kitchen

The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

asparagus-basil-and-sesame-wraps
The European Food Safety Authority recently began a review of the temporary ban on neonicotinoid pesticides imposed two years ago by the European Union (EU) in response to evidence about the harmful effect of these chemicals on bee populations.

The evaluation is due to be completed by January 2017 and it could lead to the ban being lifted or maintained.

Since its introduction, the multinational pesticides manufacturers Bayer and Syngenta have lobbied hard to have the ban lifted, despite the fact that evidence continues to accumulate about the role neonicotinoids are playing in declining bee numbers.

These chemicals are designed to attack insect pests by targeting their central nervous system, resulting firstly in paralysis and then death. However, they are not able to distinguish between a “pest” and a beneficial insect. Thus, as well as bees, evidence suggests that neonicotinoids cause harm to other beneficial insects such as ladybirds, lacewings…

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Warm Salad of Butternut Squash, Chickpea and Kale

Nice and healthy!

The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

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Supermarkets are very good at spotting trends, and even better at making themselves appear to be on top of those trends.

For example, in the last few years pressure from consumers has led to the provenance of fresh food being clearly displayed on the label. In some cases, the label will even identify the very farm where the produce was grown.

For those of us who check the labels, this trend has helped us make more informed choices over what we put in our shopping baskets.

Unfortunately, whilst such labelling should promote greater transparency, it is heavily dependent on the honesty and integrity of the supermarkets themselves.

And therein lies a problem.

Earlier this year, Tesco supermarket was revealed to be using fake farm labels on its fresh produce. Tesco have seven such labels – Rosedene Farm, Boswell Farms, Suntrail Farms, Willow Farms, Nightingale Farms, Redmere Farms and Woodside Farms

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roast chickpea and avocado salad

Love salads, LOVE avocados!

The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

roast chickpea and avocado salad

In the past twelve months some 2,000 square miles of the Amazon rainforest has been lost to clearing – equivalent to 50 football pitches every minute.

Although some of these losses are due to illegal logging, much of it has been to meet the demands of the cattle industry.

In 2009 the multinational food giants McDonald’s and Cargill were named and shamed by Greenpeace for their role in the clearance of large areas of Amazonian rainforest, either to graze cattle for burgers or to grow soy beans as feed for cattle destined to end up in burgers.

The current scale of the losses of forest land is unsustainable.

Without the protection of the forest canopies, soils quickly dry out and become vulnerable to wind and rain erosion.

Trees are a vital part of the water cycle, returning moisture from the soil to the atmosphere, which will later return in…

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