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Rooting for Taro Root

asulia blog rooting for taro root 2

Taro root at the market

Starches, we all love eating them, but is there something you can take root in that is actually better than the potato? One word, taro. This healthier starch has a glycemic index load of 18 with 3 times more fiber than a potato, 5 grams of dietary fiber per cup, and 187 calories.

Taro root has a slightly nutty taste and a creamy texture. Although it’s a bit higher in calories than a potato, it has more of the good stuff to make up for the extra digits.

I grew up eating taro as a savory main entree and as a dessert. Here’s a spin on an old classic using miso in place of a traditional fish paste. Switch up your meal planning today and give this braised miso taro recipe a go. Plus, it has the fermented goodness of miso.

asulia blog rooting for taro root 1

Taro ready eat!

Braised miso taro root recipe

  • 1 1/2 lbs taro root
  • 1 cup red miso
  • 1 julienned scallion
  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 cup low sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

Peel your taro root, using a kitchen towel to avoid touching the taro directly. Taro peel can be composted, but to my best knowledge, it’s not eaten. However, if you want to eat the skin, I’d suggest that you soak taro in water with a bit of vinegar to help get rid of any residue that may be on it.  Then cut it into large slivers about 1 inch thick. Place the soy sauce, garlic, and vegetable stock into a medium pot. Coat the taro root with the miso paste and add it in the pot. Bring the pot to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes until most of the vegetable stock is evaporated. Serve with fresh scallion and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil with a side of brown rice or quinoa and your favorite vegetable.

You can buy taro root at your local asian grocery store and most of the time Whole Foods Market will have taro as well. If not, you can always ask the store to carry taro.

If you leave room for dessert and have left over taro, steam it and blend it into a taro smoothie with coconut milk!

Not in the mood to cook? Find us in a store near you and enjoy our  taro root dumplings instead.

Oatmeal in a jar

asulia blog oatmeal in a jar
You probably know you should eat breakfast, but how many times have you skipped? No matter if you’re rushing to start work inside our out side your home, healthy meal planning can be challenging. Here’s a quick way to make breakfast the night before or the morning of without any cooking. Plus it’s raw! Put all the ingredients in a jar, shake, and place it in the fridge overnight.  I love using my mason jars for this.

  • 1/2 cup of raw old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup cashew or almond meal
  • 1/8 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1/8 cup of sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1 1/2  cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp of raw honey
  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • 1/3 cup of fresh or frozen fruit

You can substitute ingredients, as you like. Sometimes I’ll switch it up and use toasted coconut almond milk, chia seeds, agave,  and different kinds of nuts. You can also mix in some quinoa, but you’ll want to make it ahead the night before to allow the liquid to absorb.

I’ll omit using any added sweetener if the fruit is ripe enough. If you’d like more crunch, add in 1/4 cup of grapenuts or shredded wheat right before you enjoy your oatmeal so it doesn’t get soggy. This no fuss breakfast will leave you full on the good stuff and jumpstart your day, the plant-based way.

Sue’s orange cranberry sauce recipe

asulia-blog sue's orange cranberry sauce recipe

Tis the season for cranberries! These berries are a good source of vitamins C and K. Mineral content includes magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and calcium. They also contain dietary fiber and different types of phytonutrients that can boost your immune system and more. It also has a low glycemic index load rating of 2! This little red fruit is a must for the holiday season. Many recipes call for white granulated sugar, but the sweetness of this recipe comes from all fruit juices.

  • 2 1/2 cups cranberries
  • 1/2 can of concentrated apple juice
  • 2 cup water + 1Tbsp
  • Juice of 1/2 orange
  • 1 Tbsp orange zest
  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp rice flour or flour

In medium a saucepot, combine cranberries, concentrated apple juice , water, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Over high heat, bring cranberry mixture to a boil; reduce heat to medium and add in orange juice, orange zest, and cook 10-12 minutes, or until cranberries have burst and the mixture has combined, stirring once in a while.

In a small dish, mix your choice of flour with 1 tablespoon of water and mix vigorously until combined.

Add the flour and water mixture into the saucepot and mix continuously until the sauce thickens.

Simmer for 5-7 minutes or until it reaches the consistency you’d like.

Remove the saucepot from heat and transfer to your favorite small serving bowl.

Happy Holidays from Asulia!

Hobbit Dumplings Inspired by the Shire

Hobbit Dumplings

asulia blog dumplings inspired by shire

 

My friend Heath Dill over at Dillicious ran a crowdfunding campaign last year to write a cookbook called “Medium Rare and Back Again: Food from the World of Middle-earth.” based his love of Tolkien and food. The other week, I was in the kitchen with Heath shooting a segment for Hobbit day 2013 joined by folks from the Middle-earth Network, Corey Olsen (Mythgard Institute) and Ethan Gilsdorf (Geekdad/Wired).

I’ve seen all the Tolkien movies, but wouldn’t consider myself a hardcore Tolkien fan. However, I thought Hobbit Day was so fun that I wanted to participate and support Heath’s upcoming cookbook launch. I was inspired to create a new dumpling recipe with ingredients from the shire!

Hobbit Day Dumplings

For dumpling wrappers:

  • 2 C unsifted whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 Tsp arrow root or cornstarch
  • 1/2 C + 2 to 3 Tsp boiling hot water
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Hobbit’s shire-inspired filling:

  • 1 leek
  • 2 medium peeled potatoes, cut into large cubes
  • 1/2 red onion for stock, + 1/8
  • 3 parsnips + 1/2, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 Tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tsp black pepper
  • 2 gloves of fresh minced garlic

For wrappers: Mix all the dry ingredients together. With a spoon slowly add in water and combine until the mixture is slightly crumbly and the water is absorbed. If there’s not enough water to, add in 1 tablespoon more at a time. It shouldn’t be mushy, but slightly crumbly. The amount of water can vary due to the quantity of flour used since using non-weighted measurements can vary.

Form the dough into a ball and roll out on a floured surface until it’s about 1/8 of an inch thick. Use either a round cookie cutter or a water glass to cut out circles. Once you have all your wrappers, place a damp cloth towel or paper towel over the wrappers so they don’t dry out.

For the filling: Using a medium cast iron or regular pot, fill it half full of water. Add in chopped leek, 1/2 red onion, chopped potatoes, turnips, salt, pepper, garlic and bring to a boil, then turn the stove to simmer for about 20 min.

While the filling is being infused, dice 1/8 of the red onion and 1/2 a turnip and either fry or bake in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit tossed with vegetable oil until they are crispy.

After 20 minutes of simmering on the stove, strain all the ingredients and mash together. Add in 1 Tsp of salt and fold in the crispy turnips and red onions.

For the dumplings: Take one wrapper and place it on the palm of your hand, put about 1 to 1 1/2 tsp of filling in the center and rim the edges of the wrapper with water. Then fold one side over to form a crescent moon shape and press the edges together. You can either boil the dumpling in water until they float to the top, pan fry, or deep fry. Serve alone or with other middle-earth dishes.

asulia - blog hobbit dumplings inspired by the shire

Developing the Dumpling Recipes – It’s what’s inside that counts

asulia blog developing the dumpling recipes it's what's inside that counts

As you know, Asulia is launching a new handcrafted line of fusion dumplings in chickpea, kale, and taro root. Each fusion dumpling is made locally in Boston in small batches and is certified vegan. People keep asking me how I came up with the dumpling recipes.

These recipes are a modern fusion blend of flavors from the east and west, inspired by my mother’s cooking and my travels near and far. I wanted them to be filled with healthy ingredients that would give you substance without weighing you down. I also wanted the dumplings to appeal to everyone from kids to adults, and keep them locally made in Boston. The dumplings are handcrafted to retain the texture of each filling. I tweaked and tested the recipes two dozen times until I was satisfied!

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from mom and trained chefs is to always consider the elements of taste, texture, appearance, and layering flavors. Food needs to be balanced. When you dine out, typically there’s a mix of soft and crisp textures in your dish. It makes your taste buds happy and excited!

The main ingredients in each dumpling — chickpea, kale, and taro root — have a low glycemic index. They won’t spike your glucose levels. Instead, the nutrients are absorbed more slowly and steadily. This means you won’t be in a food coma after you eat them.

Chickpea Curry Dumplings: This flavor is a variation on indian and thai curries that I grew up enjoying. It’s probably the most traditionally influenced dumpling in our line. Chickpeas are high in fiber and protein. We never use canned chickpeas in our dumplings! We soak dried chickpeas in water for 24 hours, and then carefully chop them to the right consistency to retain texture. Then we steam them and blend them with coconut milk, curry, spices, carrots and more. Cauliflower was added to round out the flavor of the curry and to add texture.

Kale Dumplings: I love kale, it’s one of my favorite foods! It’s so versatile. You can bake it, stir fry it, blend in a smoothie, eat it raw and more. This dumpling is inspired by my mom’s yummy vegetable stir fries and reminds me of the taste of her dishes. In traditional Cantonese cooking, fresh ginger and garlic are used a lot. We mix kale with freshly chopped red and white cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, spices, onions, ginger and garlic. We use shiitake mushrooms to add an element of umami to the filling.

Taro Root Dumplings: I grew up eating taro root in China, where I lived until I was five years old, but it’s less common here in the States. I love it because it has an interesting and unique taste. It has a creamy, custard-like texture and slightly nutty flavor. I like it in every form, from baked to steamed. This recipe is inspired by a dish my mom used to make for me growing up. She would steam taro and marinated meat together in a rice cooker or braise it slowly over the stove with spices. Taro root is great because it has 3 times more fiber than a potato and is a great source of potassium. We steam the taro in small batches until its fully cooked and blend in fresh scallions, toasted sesame, spices, and more to create a savory dumpling filling.

 

 

 

Taro Root, a better starch

unpeeled taro root, peeled taro root, taro root smoothie, an earlier Asulia packaging idea

Above, counter clockwise: unpeeled taro root, peeled taro root, taro root smoothie, an earlier Asulia packaging idea

Above, counter clockwise: unpeeled taro root, peeled taro, taro root smoothie, an earlier packaging pic of an idea I had for a taro & scallion boat before we knew a wheat dumpling wrapper was possible.

Asulia uses taro root as the main ingredient in our Taro Root dumpling.

Taro root is a staple root vegetable in Southeast Asia, Africa, India, China, the Caribbean and the Polynesian islands. It’s often used like a potato. I grew up eating taro root in China, where I lived until I was five years old, in braised dishes and steamed with savory ingredients. Then, my mother and I moved to New York and then to Montana where I spent the vast majority of my childhood. Needless to say, it was hard to find taro, let alone any exotic vegetables back then.

When my mom and I would travel, we would make sure to eat taro. Taro root can be roasted, boiled, fried or baked. The leaves can be eaten just like spinach! Unlike potatoes, its texture is custardy and it has purple tinge once it’s cooked. It has a nutty flavor from natural sugars that come out during the cooking process. What sets this root vegetable apart from it’s starchy cousins is it’s nutrients. Taro contains three times as much fiber as a potato, is a great source of potassium and is a low glycemic index food. It’s also is very easy to digest.

The glycemic index measures how your blood sugar levels rise after you eat carbohydrates. An index number from 1-100, with 100 as the reference score stands for pure glucose, a.k.a. sugar. Foods are rated high (greater than 70), moderate (56-69), or low (less than 55). On the GI scale, taro is rated low with a score of 18. A low GI means that it’s absorbed into your body slower, which allows you to feel fuller longer since it takes longer to metabolize.

It’s important to keep in mind that you can’t eat taro raw, it needs to be cooked. To prepare taro root for cooking, peel it with a vegetable peeler under running water. This will help you to avoid any sensitivity to the juices, which can cause a mild stinging sensation. You can also a knife to remove the skin. Shield your hands with a towel or gloves.  Keep your taro covered with water in a bowl or pan until you’re ready to use it. It pairs nicely with with milk or other calcium-rich foods. I love taro with coconut milk. Here’s a recipe for a taro root smoothie.

Sue’s Taro Root Smoothie

1 1/2 cup ice
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup taro powder or ½ cup steamed fully cooked taro
1/4 cup of simple raw cane syrup or ¼ cup of sweetened condensed milk

Blend together and get your taro on!

 

Kale, a look into the leaves and kale smoothie recipe

Kale

Kale is one of my favorite vegetables and I wanted to be sure to use it in my products. That’s why we make kale dumplings.

There’s more to kale than meets the eye. This highly nutrient dense vegetable gives you more bang for the buck than your average green leaves. Let’s break down the numbers. One cup of chopped kale has 33 calories, 9% of the daily value of calcium, 206% of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C, and a get this, 684% of vitamin K! Kale is also packed with phytonutrients, flavonoids, copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. Move over multi-vitamin, I’d rather eat kale than pop another horse pill. I’m no MD, but I believe that we’re made to eat food and get our nutrients by making use of our chompers.

Kale is versatile. You can put it in anything and everything – including dumplings! I love that Dr. Drew Ramsey loves kale. You could call him a kalexpert. In his new book, 50 Shades of Kale, he shares recipes using kale you probably never thought about, like cocktails! I thought I was using kale in everything, and he outdid me.

It’s possible that kale can make you look better too. Beauty starts from the inside. Bobbi Brown is known for her line of make-up but I came across her coconut kale smoothie and it sounds delish. I can’t wait to try it out!

Here’s my Kalefull Smoothie recipe I use on a regular basis.  When I don’t drink a green smoothie in the morning, I notice  I don’t have as much energy, feel a bit unsatisfied and therefore get hungry more easily.

Sue’s Kale-full Smoothie
1 cup packed, chopped kale
1/2 a banana
1 wedge of lemon
1/2  an apple
1 scoop of original vega or pea protein
1/4 cup mango juice or berries
1 – 1 1/2 cup of water
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1 Tbsp flaxseed

Blend all ingredients together and enjoy! I’m in need of a new blender though. If you have a suggestion on what blender I should pick up, let me know!

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Lights, camera, crowdsource funding

Crowdsource funding has helped launch a lot of cool projects. With so many options, where and how do you decide which platform to use? A breakdown of the top sites as well as helpful tips will help you determine the best fit for your project.  I was at an event recently about this topic. Some  things I didn’t consider was accounting for taxes as well as the level of support I’m seeking for my upcoming campaign. It was nice to not only learn more about Indiegogo, but I was also able to directly talk with one of their leads. Unlike other platforms, they will give you feedback and offer guidance to help you make your campaign successful. Others are more hands off. It really depends on what type of project you have since it’s best to go where your audience is most likely to be.

From Kickstarter’s stats, those with a video have higher rate of success than those without 50% vs. 30%. Make a video! It doesn’t have to be fancy.  People need to be able to hear what you’re saying. This is why home video cameras are not that great. If you already have some type of gear to film with, figure out if you can attach a mic to it.  Music is nice, but not necessary. It was fun to pick out some jams for Asulia on Soundcloud that we might use in the video though!

Besides being obsessed with getting people to eat their veggies, I’m also obsessed with how things look. Luckily Morning Fog Film set me up with a lighting plan.  I rented all my equipment from Rule Boston Camera and had friends help me shoot the footage.  Andrew at Rule was awesome!  He was extremely patient as I asked tons of questions. We spent hours preparing for the shoot. I never thought a short video would entail so much time or that I would be learning about film!  Scouting veggies once again, renting equipment, picking up an emergency hot roller kit, and more. On the day of, I was frantically spraying hairspray but it wasn’t working. I kept spraying anyway. When I unpacked the next day, I found out it was dry shampoo! No wonder it wasn’t holding. Hopefully, my hair doesn’t look white in the footage.

In the evening, I made a gluten free kimchi quesadilla.
two brown rice tortillas
1 cup charred romaine lettuce
1 cup kimchi
1/3 cup of aged white cheddar
2 tbs sriracha

On high heat, charr romaine lettuce on a grill or skillet.  Adjust to low heat, place 1 tortilla in a pan with half the cheese. Layer romaine, kimchi, sriracha, and remaining cheese. Flip the tortilla over until the cheese has melted and both sides have browned.