Sometimes a Pescetarian

Embarking on my journey to eat healthier is challenging. My desire is to eat very minimal meat to no meat at all. With that said, pescetarian is on my mind!  ‘Wondering what pescetarian is? It’s vegetarian diet but it includes fish and shellfish. It’s a challenge to stick to pescetarian diet, especially because I grew up eating lots of meat. Meat temptation is everywhere—market, restaurants, magazines, Internet, and television. And my love for watching food shows and reading food magazines doesn’t help at all. But tonight, I am saying no to meat (hopefully tomorrow night and the following night to, in hopes of making this a habit).

What’s on tonight’s menu? Salad! I love salad. You can do so much with salad. This is my version of the Superfood Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette recipe from Iowa Girl Eats.

Quinoa Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Ingredients:
1/2 cup dry quinoa, cooked and cooled
1/3 cup red onion, chopped
1 orange, peeled and segments chopped
1 avocado, chopped
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup peaches, chopped
1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
salt & pepper to taste

For the Lemon Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
sweetener, agave
salt & pepper to taste
6 tbsp olive oil

Directions:

For the Lemon Vinaigrette: Whisk together lemon juice, garlic, dash of agave, salt and pepper in a bowl. Drizzle the olive oil while whisking constantly. Combine quinoa with red onion, orange, avocado, beans, peaches, red bell pepper, cilantro, salt and pepper.

Ingredients

Pour Lemon Vinaigrette over the salad and stir. The original recipe calls for pomegranate arils and corn. I used peaches, since it’s in season right now, and red bell pepper instead.

You can add chicken or shrimp, or any meat you like in the salad. Since I’m avoiding meat, I topped my salad with sauteed shrimp. I marinated shrimp with garlic powder, salt, pepper, and chili flakes. You can marinate the shrimp with your favorite herbs and spices. Cook the shrimp with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Don’t over cook the shrimp! Take the shrimp out of the pan as soon as it feels almost firm. You want the shrimp to stay juicy!

Quinoa Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Quinoa Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

It’s a healthy and delicious meal. As my dad would say, “it’s chow time!”

Quinoa Salad topped with Sauteed Shrimp

Quinoa Salad topped with Sauteed Shrimp

Life is better with popsicles!

It was a chilly August night. My feet were itching to go out. I decided to check out the 626 Night Market, held in my neighborhood at the Santa Anita Race Track in Arcadia, CA. 626 Night Market is an Asian food themed night market that offers Asian culture and food. Its inspiration comes from the evening markets in the streets of Asia.

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626 Night Market in Santa Anita Race Track, Arcadia, CA.

I would love to talk about the different Asian food at the night market but my experience was a bit disappointing—most of the food that I had were bland. The event was packed with people walking and people waiting in long line to get their food. I didn’t have the patience to wait in line so I tried food from vendors with a few people waiting in line. Bad idea! Food were not so tasty. Shortly after I got there, I lost my appetite to the stench of stinky tofu. It smelled like horse manure (at the race track, so could it be actually the horse manure?). I couldn’t stand the smell any longer. I was ready to go home. As I was walking back to the parking lot, I passed by a food stand selling gourmet popsicles. I love popsicles. I would try them but of course I didn’t bring enough cash with me—another addition to my disappointment. I guess I was to blame for this experience too. No cash and no patience to stand in lines (good food = long line of people waiting).

Now, I’m stuck on the popsicles. It brings me back to the time when I was a kid growing up in the Philippines, where it’s always hot and humid. My lola (grandmother in Tagalog) would make batches of ice candy. Ice candy is a frozen fruit juice in a long plastic bag that is tied at the top. Lola would make ice candy avocado, sweet corn, coconut, orange, mango, and melon. They were perfect to snack on, especially in the tropical weather.

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Ice candy photo from my sarisari store

As homage to my lola, I made my version of her ice candy into gourmet Popsicle (with a twist!). I love mangoes. I eat slices of mango with lime juice and chili powder every chance I get. Sounds like a yummy combination for popsicles. My mouth waters thinking about it! Here is the recipe for homemade Mango Chili Lime Popsicles.

Mango Chili Lime Popsicles

Makes about 6 popsicles

Ingredients:

3 sweet mexican mangoes, peeled and diced

Zest and Juice of one lime

Simple syrup to taste

Cayenne chili powder to taste

Water

Instructions:

Peel and diced the mango flesh. Set aside about ½ cup small dices of mango. In a blender or food processor, puree the remaining diced mangoes with lime juice, lime zest, simple syrup, and cayenne chili powder. Adjust to taste. Add about 3 tablespoons of water, or more if the puree is too thick for you. I used less water as possible because I don’t want the popsicles to have ice crystals when frozen.  The less water the better the popsicle texture.

In a small bowl, combine the small dices of mango with cayenne chili powder and lime juice. Start with a pinch of chili powder and a tsp of lime juice. Adjust to your taste.

Fill the popsicle molds with mango chunks and puree. I filled them in this order—chunks of mango on the bottom of the molds, pureed mango on top, and topped with more chunks of mango (if there’s any left over). Gently tap the bottom of mold on the kitchen counter to make sure the mango puree settles over the chunks of mango. Insert the popsicle sticks and freeze over night.

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Chunky Mango Chili Lime Popsicles

The mango chili lime popsicles were delish! My favorite part is biting into chunks of mango with chili powder. There’s a perfect balance from the sweetness of the mango and heat of cayenne chili powder. These homemade popsicles made up for my not-so-great experience at the night market. Yes, life is better with popsicles.

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