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Monday, June 17, 2013

Far Eastern Tofu & Veggie Stir Fry With Special Sauce

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Stir fries are super quick, ultra simple meals to throw together. Although it's an Asian style dish you'll notice I add extra virgin olive oil in combination with toasted sesame seed oil. Not to worry, the olive oil blends right in and its taste is completely undetectable. I add the olive oil to balance out the omega-6 fat from the sesame seed oil. Nothing is innately wrong with omega-6 fat (in fact, it's an essential fat your body absolutely needs), but if you eat too much it can be pro-inflammatory. The sesame oil is rich in several important antioxidants including a particularly powerful antioxidant called sesamal. And, because sesame oil has a medium smoke point, it's a good choice for light sauteing where the temperature stays below about 320 degrees F. Sesame oil also adds fabulous flavor and delicious Asian undertones. You'll notice I suggest layering the oil, or adding it in stages rather than all at once. This little trick helps maximize the flavor of the vegetables without having to use globs and globs of oil.
As for the tofu (which, by the way, is curdled soy milk that has been pressed in a process similar to making cheese), despite the claims on the Internet and elsewhere that soy foods are not healthy, the weight of available scientific and epidemiological evidence indicates soy is not only safe but also nutritious and health-promoting when eaten in relatively unrefined forms such as tofu. And, if it's prepared right, tofu can be delish!
To make this stir fry a complete meal serve over steamed brown rice. By the way, I can't stress enough how much time you'll save cooking brown rice (and any other whole grain for that matter!) by using a rice cooker. Simply measure the rice and water, set the timer and you'll have perfectly cooked whole grains in less than an hour.
For the best taste and best health benefits be careful not to over-cook the veggies. You want them to be crunchy-tender and retain their vibrant color. While a steel wok is the ideal pan for making stir-fry dishes because it distributes heat evenly, large flat skillets are nearly as effective. The important part is to stir the ingredients constantly over high heat... and not to overcook!
Serves: 4
-1 tablespoons good quality soy sauce
-2 tablespoons lime juice
-1/2 teaspoon red chile paste (such as Thai Kitchen brand "Roasted Red Chile Paste")
-1 tablespoon raw honey
-1 package (14 ounces) extra-firm tofu, drained, patted dry and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
-1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
-Sea salt, to taste
-4 teaspoons toasted sesame seed oil, divided
-1 medium red onion, quartered and sliced thin
-12 ounces carrot sticks
-1/2 pound snow peas, stringed
-2 yellow bell peppers, cut into thin strips
-2 tablespoons minced scallions, white parts only
-1 tablespoon minced garlic
-1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root
-Sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
Special Sauce: Mix the following ingredients in a small bowl
-2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
-1 tablespoon lime juice
-1 teaspoon red Chile paste (such as Thai Kitchen brand "Roasted Red Chile Paste")
-1 tablespoon high quality soy sauce
-1 tablespoon raw honey
In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, lime juice, red Chile paste and honey. Place tofu in a medium-sized bowl and pour sauce on top. Toss tofu gently to coat each piece. Set tofu aside, tossing occasionally.
Heat a medium-size wok (or large skillet) over high heat for 1 to 2 minutes. When the wok is hot, add the extra virgin olive oil, tilting the wok so the oil coats all sides. Drain the tofu from the marinade and add to the hot wok. Sear tofu for 2-3 minutes each side. Remove tofu from wok and set aside. Lightly season with salt (optional) and cover to keep warm.
Let the wok heat back up for 30 seconds, then drizzle 2 teaspoons of the sesame oil in the wok. Add the onions and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the carrots and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil; stir fry for 1 minute. Add the snow peas, yellow bell peppers, and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil; stir fry for 1 to 2 minutes.
Clear the center of the wok and add the minced scallions, garlic and ginger; drizzle with the remaining 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and mash the scallions, garlic and ginger into the pan with the back of a spatula. Cook for 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat, stir the scallion, garlic and ginger mixture in with the vegetables.
Return the wok to the heat and add the tofu, stir in the "special sauce" until all ingredients are well coated and sauce is hot. Serve at once.
To get free daily updates on whole foods nutrition, whole foods cooking video demos, nutrition advice, 30-minute workouts, healthy product reviews and more visit Ivy Larson at http://www.HotandHealthyLiving.com
Ivy is a healthy lifestyle coach who runs http://www.HotandHealthyLiving.com. Along with her husband, Andy Larson, M.D., Ivy is the author of the bestselling Gold Coast Cure, Fitter Firmer Faster and Whole Foods Diet Cookbook. A popular figure among national media outlets, Ivy has appeared on such shows as Good Morning America, CNN, and Fox News. She currently makes regular appearances on Lifetime Television.
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