Jeanette's Healthy Living http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com Where delicious and healthy come together Wed, 21 Jun 2017 13:26:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/cropped-cropped-logo-32x32.jpg Jeanette's Healthy Living http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com 32 32 College Cooking Crash Course: How to Make an Omelet http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/college-cooking-crash-course-how-to-make-an-omelet/ http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/college-cooking-crash-course-how-to-make-an-omelet/#respond Wed, 21 Jun 2017 09:00:34 +0000 http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/?p=31523 This is part 1 in a new series: College Cooking Crash Course. This series is designed for college students looking to learn the basics of making healthy, cost-effective, and delicious meals. Hi everyone, I’m Kyle. I am going to be a senior next year at Princeton University, majoring in Religion. This summer, I’m excited to...

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Kyle's First Veggie Omelet - college student crash cooking course

This is part 1 in a new series: College Cooking Crash Course. This series is designed for college students looking to learn the basics of making healthy, cost-effective, and delicious meals.

Kyle's First Veggie Omelet - college cooking crash course learning to make healthy, delicious, budget-friendly meals

Hi everyone, I’m Kyle. I am going to be a senior next year at Princeton University, majoring in Religion. This summer, I’m excited to be a part-time contributor to Jeanette’s Healthy Living. Jeanette (my mom!) is going to give me a college cooking crash course on making delicious, healthy food as I prepare for my first year off of the school meal plan, which means I’ll be cooking most of my meals myself! Other than some occasional baking, I have little to no experience cooking. And so, over the next six weeks or so, I’ll be embarking on a crash course in cooking, learning the ins and outs of making simple, but tasty and health-focused meals. By the end of the summer, I hope to have all of the experience and skills necessary to survive an entire school year (and beyond!) without ever having to set foot in another school cafeteria ever again.

So, here are some goals I have for this summer’s college cooking crash course:
1. Get down the basics! This includes mastering basic knife skills, cooking a pot of pasta, making a good omelet, and, of course, learning how to cut an onion without crying.
2. Learn how to grocery shop (how to identify ripe fruits + vegetables, select the right meats, pick healthy products)
3. Learn to make some of my favorite meals. This includes (but is certainly not limited to!): Chicken Parmesan, French Dip Sandwich, Ramen Noodle Soup, Vietnamese Pho, Pasta Bolognese, and Pasta Puttanesca.
4. Come up with some recipes of my own. I’d love to get creative and invent some of my own dishes. In particular, I am excited to experiment with making some of my own ice cream and gelato flavors.
5. Write an e-book for college students like me. This e-book would include basic grocery shopping + cooking tips, some of my on recipes, and weekly meal plans.

And, here are a few goals I have for the school year:
1. Cook as many of my meals as possible – ideally I’d make breakfast, lunch, and dinner everyday, 7 days a week!
2. Save money. Eating out is expensive, and, as a college student, I can’t afford to eat out all the time! Cooking most of my meals will definitely help keep my wallet happy, but I’d also like to make cost-effective meals by shopping smartly and reusing leftovers whenever possible.
3. Eat healthy. Even as I try to keep my costs down, I still want to make sure I’m eating enough fruits, vegetables, proteins, etc. each day in order to keep me energized throughout the school day.
4. Make dinner with my roommates at least once a week. Cooking together not only saves money, but is also a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to sharing meals with my roommates and other friends as we spend our last year together in college.

Kyle's First Veggie Omelet - college cooking crash course learning to make healthy, delicious, budget-friendly meals

This morning, I had my first college cooking lesson. My mom showed me how to properly chop mushrooms, peppers, onions, and garlic (without slicing one of my fingers off!) as well as how to crack and whisk eggs. After that, I threw everything together on the stove to cook my first-ever veggie omelet. To complete the meal, I made a super simple strawberry smoothie. Check out the recipes below and stay tuned for the next installment in this College Cooking Crash Course series!

Veggie Omelet

An easy-to-make omelet that you can make for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 2 tbsp red onion (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp white mushrooms (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp green pepper (chopped)
  • 1 tbsp scallion (chopped)
  • 1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
  • 3 tbsp shredded cheddar cheese
  • salt
  • pepper
  1. Whisk eggs and season with salt and pepper.

  2. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a small skillet and sauté vegetables until slightly softened. Season vegetables with salt and pepper. Remove vegetables from skillet. 

  3. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil and pour eggs in skillet. Use a spatula to gently push the cooked portions of eggs from the edges toward the center of skillet, letting the uncooked portions reach the hot skillet surface. Cook until all of the eggs are soft, but solid. 

  4. Add sautéed vegetables and cheese to one half of the eggs. Fold the other half of the eggs over. 

  5. Flip the omelet over, and serve!

Feel free to substitute vegetables with whatever leftover ingredients you have in your fridge!

Strawberry Smoothie

A super simple strawberry smoothie that tastes great.

  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 1/2 cup orange juice
  1. Put ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

You can also use fresh strawberries (just add some ice).

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Cambodian Sweet Soy Noodle Bowl Recipe http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/cambodian-sweet-soy-noodle-bowl-with-pickles-recipe/ http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/cambodian-sweet-soy-noodle-bowl-with-pickles-recipe/#comments Mon, 19 Jun 2017 09:00:05 +0000 http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/?p=31478 Cambodian Sweet Soy Noodle Bowl is the ultimate vegetarian noodle bowl (vegan adaptable), combining sweet, salty and sour flavors and crunchy, juicy and chewy textures. It’s a party in a bowl. I’m a sucker for Asian noodles of all kinds, from Vietnamese Pho to Chinese Dan Dan Mien, Korean Jap Chae and Cold Japanese Soba Noodles....

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Cambodian Sweet Soy Noodle Bowl - vegetarian (vegan adaptable) lunch/dinner with broiled tofu, crushed peanuts, pickled vegetables, bean sprouts and hard boiled egg

Cambodian Sweet Soy Noodle Bowl is the ultimate vegetarian noodle bowl (vegan adaptable), combining sweet, salty and sour flavors and crunchy, juicy and chewy textures. It’s a party in a bowl. I’m a sucker for Asian noodles of all kinds, from Vietnamese Pho to Chinese Dan Dan Mien, Korean Jap Chae and Cold Japanese Soba Noodles. So, when I spotted a recipe for Cambodian Sweet Soy Noodles with Pickles in Pat Tanumihardja’s Farm To Table Asian Secrets cookbook, I earmarked it to give it a try.

Cambodian Sweet Soy Noodle Bowl - vegetarian (vegan adaptable) lunch/dinner with broiled tofu, crushed peanuts, pickled vegetables, bean sprouts and hard boiled egg

This Cambodian Sweet Soy Noodle Bowl make a delicious lunch or dinner idea (I even served it for breakfast to one of my sons). I have to admit I was hesitant to try this recipe at first due to the number of ingredients, but after taking a closer look, I realized most of the ingredients were already in my refrigerator or pantry. Plus, this is a flexible recipe. So if you don’t have preserved radishes, for example, just leave them out. Several of the ingredients such as assorted pickles and Broiled Tofu can be store-bought or you can make your own following the recipes in the cookbook.

Cambodian Sweet Soy Noodle Bowl - vegetarian (vegan adaptable) lunch/dinner with broiled tofu, crushed peanuts, pickled vegetables, bean sprouts and hard boiled egg

You can also buy crispy garlic in some Asian grocery stores, or make Pat’s Microwaved Crispy Garlic Bits, which are genius! They add a unique crunchiness to the Cambodian Sweet Soy Noodle Bowl.

Cambodian Sweet Soy Noodle Bowl - vegetarian (vegan adaptable) lunch/dinner with broiled tofu, crushed peanuts, pickled vegetables, bean sprouts and hard boiled egg

All the recipes in Farm To Table Asian Secrets are vegan or vegetarian, with a focus on seasonal ingredients. So, the recipes are divided into Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter Recipes. Pat also provides seasonal variations on recipes and seasonal menu suggestions, to take advantage of produce at their peak. There is also a section entitled Basic Recipes, which is a gem. I would buy this book solely for all the homemade chili paste, vegan fish sauce, hoisin sauce and Indonesian peanut sauce recipes.

I’m looking forward to trying more seasonal recipes from Farm to Table Asian Secrets, especially during our farmer’s market season, including Vietnamese Noodle Salad Bowls, Mixed Vegetable Salad with Indonesian Peanut Sauce, Ice Cold Korean Buckwheat Noodles, and Burmese-Style Pumpkin and Parsnip Curry.

Cambodian Sweet Soy Noodle Bowl - vegetarian (vegan adaptable) lunch/dinner with broiled tofu, crushed peanuts, pickled vegetables, bean sprouts and hard boiled egg

Back to this Cambodian Sweet Soy Noodle Bowl. This cool noodle bowl reminds me of pad thai because of the rice noodles, bean sprouts, crushed peanuts and lime. I made some quick vinegar cucumber pickles and Pat’s Broiled Tofu with hoisin sauce, as well as the Microwaved Garlic Bits. Fun to eat, and delicious, I encourage to give this recipe a try and check out Pat Tanumihardja’s Farm To Table Asian Secrets cookbook.

Cambodian Sweet Soy Noodle Bowl with Pickles

  • 8 ounces dried thin rice noodles (banh pho)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic (smashed and peeled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Sweet Soy Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons coconut palm sugar or 1-1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

Toppings

  • 1/2 cup assorted pickles (celery, fennel, cucumber)
  • 8 ounces Broiled Tofu
  • 2 cups bean sprouts (blanched for 30 seconds)
  • 4 large hard boiled eggs (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons preserved radish (soaked, drained and chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons Microwaved Crispy Garlic Bits
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts (crushed)

Garnishes

  • 2 tablespoons green onions (green parts only, chopped)
  • 1 cup assorted herbs plucked from their stems (Thai or Italian basil, cilantro, parsley)
  • 1 large lime (quartered)
  • soy sauce
  • chili paste such as sambal oelek
  1. To make Sweet Soy Sauce, combine the soy sauce, water and palm sugar in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium for 1 minute, then stir until the sugar dissolves.

  2. Bring a large pot of water of water to a rolling boil. Submerge dried noodles in boiling water and turn off heat. Stir to loosen and unravel them. When noodles are completely limp, test for doneness. They should be cooked through but still al dente, 6-8 minutes. Pay attention, because they’ll turn mush if overcooked. Drain and rinse noodles under cold running water. Drain again in a colander over the sink to dry off the noodles as much as possible.

  3. Swirl the oil into a large wok or skillet and set over medium heat until shimmering hot. Swish the garlic around in the oil until golden to flavor the oil, 4-5 minutes. Remove and discard.

  4. Toss the cooked noodles in the oil for a few seconds, then pour the Sweet Soy Sauce over the noodles and toss until well coated. Sprinkle with the salt and mix well. Remove the noodles and toss until well coated. Sprinkle with the salt and mix well. Remove the noodles from the heat and divide among 4 large bowls. 

  5. To serve, top each bowl of noodles with a fourth of the pickles, tofu, bean sprouts, eggs, preserved radish, Microwaved Crispy Garlic Bits and peanuts. Serve immediately with garnishes alongside in small dishes.

Reprinted with permission from Farm To Table Asian Secrets by Patricia Tanumihardja. Use gluten-free soy sauce if needed for dietary considerations.

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Being Still http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/being-still/ http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/being-still/#respond Sun, 18 Jun 2017 17:23:04 +0000 http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/?p=31470 I have a hard time being still. Just ask my husband. I am always busy doing something. So, when I was pulled to a screeching halt a few weeks ago, it was as if the life had been ripped right out of me. The last few months had been a whirlwind of activity as I went...

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"Be Still And Know I Am God" - Psalm 46-10

I have a hard time being still. Just ask my husband. I am always busy doing something. So, when I was pulled to a screeching halt a few weeks ago, it was as if the life had been ripped right out of me.

The last few months had been a whirlwind of activity as I went on two amazing back-to-back trips with three of my kids. First, I spent a week in Costa Rica with my oldest son scuba diving for the first time, and hiking around Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna waterfall. Then, 2 1/2 weeks later, I went to Taiwan and Hong Kong with my twin boys and my sister, where we hiked up to see the Big Buddha on Lantau Island and did a lot of walking to see local sights. Life was good.

Then, everything came tumbling down. Not even seven hours after I hit the sack following a 15 hour flight back from Hong Kong, I got a phone call that my 90-year aunt had taken a fall, We ended up in the emergency room where we discovered she had a major blood clot in one of her legs. This emergency room visit took place in between making a birthday dinner for three of my boys who were celebrating all of their birthdays that evening, and having cake and opening presents. We actually left the emergency room 11:30PM that night and came home to have birthday cake and open presents, before heading back to the hospital until 2AM. Fortunately, my aunt’s blood clot was discovered in time, and she is now staying at a good rehabilitation center trying to regain her strength so she can walk again. I teased my aunt that she waited until I got back from Hong Kong to have a blood clot just so I could be around.

Talk about the fastest return from cloud nine to reality! My first reaction when all this chaos broke lose was to chuckle. I figured God had given me a break, and it was now time to get back to real life. How quickly things can change within 24 hours.

A week after I brought my aunt to rehab, I found myself laid up on the couch with some sort of bug and slept for two whole days – being still. A few days later when I felt more energetic, I started to catch up on all the things I hadn’t gotten done when I was sick. This impatience got me into trouble because I landed back on the couch with a terrible cough and double pink eye, and was told by my doctor to keep talking to a minimum (talking only makes the cough worse) and to avoid contact with people because I was contagious. In fact, I was specifically told not to visit my aunt. Well, if there’s any clearer way to get the message across, that was it. Being still was the only thing I could do. Be still and know that I am God. 

God has a funny sense of humor sometimes. He knows I won’t stop until I have no choice. This is not the first time he’s called me to be still. I was forced to be still when my oldest son suffered a severe concussion and had to sit in the dark with no noise for a month almost 7 years ago. I was again forced to be still a year after that happened when my youngest son was home for a month with severe abdominal pains due to food intolerances/allergies.

It’s been a while since I’ve gotten the nudge from God to be still. And this time, I have to admit it has been harder being still. But, I have no choice. As it has turned out, my doctor’s order not to visit my aunt has forced me to trust the people that are taking care of her more, and to trust God more. This crazy couple of weeks has not only forced me to be still, but to be more silent too. Experiencing more silence has brought more stillness into my life. I’ve been quieting myself and spending more time meditating over God’s word during my morning devotion time. I also realize now that while I had a great time on vacation, that I hadn’t spent enough time with God during that time. So, I am taking this time being still, get back to being closer to God, and listening for my next calling.

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Asian Beer Marinated Flank Steak Recipe http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/asian-beer-marinated-flank-steak/ http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/asian-beer-marinated-flank-steak/#comments Wed, 14 Jun 2017 09:00:16 +0000 http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/?p=31137 Asian Beer Marinated Flank Steak is a family favorite during summertime grilling season. I’ve been grilling this marinated flank steak for family and friends over the past 15+ years. This marinade recipe does double duty as a tenderizer and a flavor enhancer for flank steak, an economical but less tender cut of beef than more expensive cuts such as...

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Asian Beer Marinated Flank Steak - this marinade is phenomenal! Juicy and flavorful flank steak on the grill is a summer favorite

Asian Beer Marinated Flank Steak is a family favorite during summertime grilling season. I’ve been grilling this marinated flank steak for family and friends over the past 15+ years. This marinade recipe does double duty as a tenderizer and a flavor enhancer for flank steak, an economical but less tender cut of beef than more expensive cuts such as strip steak or ribeye. Flank steak is very lean so the marinade also adds juiciness to the steak. Sponsored by Peapod.

Asian Beer Marinated Flank Steak - this marinade is phenomenal! Juicy and flavorful flank steak on the grill is a summer favorite

I love casual dinners during the summertime, especially when everything can be cooked on the outdoor grill. There are no pots and pans to wash, and grilling takes less time than cooking on the stove. Also, grilling enables me to make an entire dinner on the grill at the same time, and to serve a small or big crowd easily.

Asian Beer Marinated Flank Steak - this marinade is phenomenal! Juicy and flavorful flank steak on the grill is a summer favorite

I’m sharing this Asian grilled flank steak recipe with Peapod for Father’s Day this year. Flank steak is great for entertaining because it’s less expensive than rib eye and strip steak, and you can make a large quantity with minimal extra effort. Each flank steak (assuming ~ 1 1/2 pounds each) can serve about 4-6 people depending on whether or not you’re serving other proteins. My family loves mixed grill dinners, where a variety of meats and sides are served, so I might serve this Asian beer marinated flank steak along with Thai Curry Cilantro Garlic Chicken and Grilled Brazilian Rub Salmon, and a bunch of different sides.

Tenderizing Agents for Flank Steak

Marinating tougher and leaner cuts of meat like flank steak results in a more tender and flavorful steak. However, you need to include at least one tenderizing agent in the marinade. This recipe for Asian Beer Marinated Flank Steak uses two: beer and ginger. Beer contains alpha acids and tannins that help tenderize meat, and ginger contains a proteolytic enzyme that naturally helps break down protein. The added plus is that both of these tenderizing agents add flavor to the marinade.

Asian Beer Marinated Flank Steak - this marinade is phenomenal! Juicy and flavorful flank steak on the grill is a summer favorite

Basically, a tenderizing marinade will contain at least one ingredient that contains tannins, acid or enzymes that break down protein. Other tenderizing agents that work well with flank steak and tougher cuts of meat include pineapple, kiwi, and papaya which contain vegetable enzymes that dissolve protein and connective tissues; vinegars such as balsamic vinegar, wine (red wine is both acidic and contains tannins), and citrus juices like orange juice. If you’re using pineapple, kiwi or papaya, I suggest blending it into a puree and adding it to the marinade.

Asian Beer Marinated Flank Steak - this marinade is phenomenal! Juicy and flavorful flank steak on the grill is a summer favorite

Asian Beer Marinated Flank Steak

Marinating overnight is key to a more flavorful steak.

  • 1 bottle beer
  • 3 scallions (chopped)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce (gluten-free if needed)
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 slices ginger (minced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 pounds flank steak
  1. Place all ingredients except flank steak in a resealable gallon-size plastic bag. Put flank steak inside bag and seal bag. Massage bag to mix ingredients well. Refrigerate overnight.

    Grill until cooked to your desired doneness. Let rest 5 minutes. Slice thinly against the grain.

If you like this recipe for Asian Beer Marinated Flank Steak, you might also like these grilling recipes on From The Pod:

Grilled Mediterranean Shrimp and Zucchini Noodle Packets
Chimichurri Grilled Shrimp Kebabs
Grilled Chicken Skewers with Thai Chili Peanut Sauce
Grilled Curried Chicken Paillard with Mango Cherry Tomato Relish

Source:

11 Meat Tenderizers and Why They Work

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Corn Tomato Avocado Salsa Salad Recipe http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/corn-tomato-avocado-salsa-salad/ http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/corn-tomato-avocado-salsa-salad/#comments Mon, 12 Jun 2017 09:00:01 +0000 http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/?p=18588 This Corn Tomato Avocado Salsa Salad is perfect for warm weather entertaining. Serve it as a dip for an appetizer, salsa on top of grilled chicken or fish, or as a salad. Casual summer dinners, barbecues and get togethers call for easy recipes that can be thrown together quickly with fresh in-season ingredients. I love...

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Corn Tomato Avocado Salsa Salad Recipe - serve as a dip, salsa on top of grilled chicken or fish, or as a salad

This Corn Tomato Avocado Salsa Salad is perfect for warm weather entertaining. Serve it as a dip for an appetizer, salsa on top of grilled chicken or fish, or as a salad. Casual summer dinners, barbecues and get togethers call for easy recipes that can be thrown together quickly with fresh in-season ingredients. I love warmer weather when casual dinners and gatherings just seem more apropos. Dinners are often made on the grill, and fresh, simple salads like today’s Corn Avocado Tomato Salad are served alongside.

Corn Tomato Avocado Salsa Salad - serve as a dip, salsa on top of grilled chicken or fish, or as a salad
Today’s recipe is a versatile one that can be served as a dip, salsa or salad. You might not think of this as a traditional salsa, which we typically think of as tomato-based. These days, salsas seem to be include just about any fruit or vegetable including corn, beans, mango, avocado, pineapple, cucumbers, and zucchini.

I first made this Corn Tomato Avocado Salsa Salad for Father’s Day a few years ago and intended to serve it on top of some grilled chicken, but ended up serving it as a salad instead. Of course, some people opted to eat it on top of their chicken too. Since then, I’ve made this as a dip for a fun party appetizer too.

Corn Tomato Avocado Salsa Salad - serve as a dip, salsa on top of grilled chicken or fish, or as a salad

This salad is full of fresh summer flavors and would be great if you have some fresh basil to toss in. Serve it as a dip, on top of grilled fish and chicken, in tacos, or as a salad like I did. It makes a great afternoon, poolside snack too!

Corn Tomato Avocado Salsa Salad

Serve as a dip, salsa on top of grilled chicken or fish, or as a salad

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups corn kernels
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 1 red bell pepper (finely chopped)
  • 1 avocado (chopped)
  • 1 scallion (minced)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro or basil leaves (minced)
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper (seeded, minced)
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • drizzle extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • sea salt (to taste)
  • fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add corn and garlic and saute until corn has a few brown spots. Transfer to a bowl and toss with remaining ingredients. Serve. 

If you like this recipe, you might like:

Mexican Corn Quinoa Salad

Mexican Corn Quinoa Salad © Jeanette's Healthy Living

Chipotle Black Bean Corn Tomato Avocado Salad

Chipotle Black Bean Corn Tomato Avocado Salad - this can be eaten as a dip or a salad - perfect for summer barbecues and picnics!

Quinoa Corn Kale Tomato Salad

Kale Quinoa Tomato Corn Salad © Jeanette's Healthy Living

Mexican Corn Tomato Feta Salad

Mexican Corn Tomato Feta Salad - you'll find all the flavors of Mexican street corn are in this creamy summer salad

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Din Tai Fung Taipei Taiwan http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/din-tai-fung-taipei/ http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/din-tai-fung-taipei/#comments Mon, 05 Jun 2017 09:00:50 +0000 http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/?p=31397 Din Tai Fung Taipei Taiwan is famous for its soup dumplings, and is recommended by almost everyone that has visited Taipei, as well as local residents. During my recent visit to Taipei, we ate at two different locations of Din Tai Fung, one at Taipei 101, and the original restaurant near Yongkang Street at No....

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Din Tai Fung Taipei - famous for its soup dumplings, this restaurant is a must visit in Taipei. So many different dumplings and dishes to choose from.

Din Tai Fung Taipei Taiwan is famous for its soup dumplings, and is recommended by almost everyone that has visited Taipei, as well as local residents. During my recent visit to Taipei, we ate at two different locations of Din Tai Fung, one at Taipei 101, and the original restaurant near Yongkang Street at No. 194, Sec. 2, Xinyi Rd.

Din Tai Fung Taipei - famous for its soup dumplings, this restaurant is a must visit in Taipei. So many different dumplings and dishes to choose from.

I just returned from seven days in Taipei, Taiwan and Hong Kong, and am still trying to digest everything we saw and ate. It was an eating experience to be sure, but we also observed some unique things about the culture and people in both Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Din Tai Fung is a must for anyone visiting Taipei, so we went to the Taipei 101 location as soon as we arrived in Taipei. Din Tai Fung is known to draw crowds so we were expecting a long queue but there was no line (we got there around 8PM and they close at 9:30PM), although there was a short 10 minute wait. We were immediately handed a menu list to check off what we wanted to order, but it was in Chinese. We were pleasantly surprised to find they had an English menu too. Din Tai Fung’s service is extremely efficient. We were expected to have everything checked off before we were seated, and were warned when the last call for dumplings was before the restaurant was to close.

Din Tai Fung Taipei - famous for its soup dumplings, this restaurant is a must visit in Taipei. So many different dumplings and dishes to choose from.

The next day, we were treated to a huge feast by our cousin at the original Din Tai Fung restaurant. There was a slight queue (we got there around 2PM on Friday) so our wait was less than 30 minutes. According to our cousin, Din Tai Fung is best known for their dumplings (left top part of the menu), as well as their fried rice and hot and sour soup. The advantage of going to Din Tai Fung with a local is that they know what to order in addition to the famous soup dumplings.

Now, to share our feast! There were six of us (including two of my boys who are big eaters) so we were able to sample a lot of different dumplings and dishes. Note: we did eat this over the course of two meals ;).

Pork Xiaolongbao (what Din Tai Fung is famous for – skins are thinner than soup dumplings I’ve had in the U.S. – not a lot of soup, but delicious)

Din Tai Fung Taipei - famous for its soup dumplings, this restaurant is a must visit in Taipei. So many different dumplings and dishes to choose from.

Crab Roe and Pork Xiaolongbao (not much crab flavor – I preferred the regular pork xiaolongbao)

Din Tai Fung Taipei - famous for its soup dumplings, this restaurant is a must visit in Taipei. So many different dumplings and dishes to choose from.

Green Squash and Shrimp Xiaolongbao (subtle, refreshing green squash)

Din Tai Fung Taipei - famous for its soup dumplings, this restaurant is a must visit in Taipei. So many different dumplings and dishes to choose from.

Truffle and Pork Xiaolongbao (one of our favorites)

Din Tai Fung Taipei - famous for its soup dumplings, this restaurant is a must visit in Taipei. So many different dumplings and dishes to choose from.

Steamed Vegetable and Ground Pork Dumplings (not sure what the vegetables were, but they were very flavorful)

Din Tai Fung Taipei - famous for its soup dumplings, this restaurant is a must visit in Taipei. So many different dumplings and dishes to choose from.

Steamed Fish Dumplings (delicate but delicious)

Din Tai Fung Taipei - famous for its soup dumplings, this restaurant is a must visit in Taipei. So many different dumplings and dishes to choose from.

Steamed Vegetarian Mushroom Dumplings (one of my sister’s favorites)

Din Tai Fung Taipei - famous for its soup dumplings, this restaurant is a must visit in Taipei. So many different dumplings and dishes to choose from.

Shrimp and Pork Pot Stickers (look at the crust!)

Din Tai Fung Taipei - famous for its soup dumplings, this restaurant is a must visit in Taipei. So many different dumplings and dishes to choose from.

Sweet Taro Xiaolongbao (at first, eating a sweet xiaolongbao sounded strange, but it was much better than I expected!)

Din Tai Fung Taipei - famous for its soup dumplings, this restaurant is a must visit in Taipei. So many different dumplings and dishes to choose from.

House Special Spicy Vegetable and Pork Wontons (the sauce was excellent)

Din Tai Fung Taipei - famous for its soup dumplings, this restaurant is a must visit in Taipei. So many different dumplings and dishes to choose from.

Spicy Pickled Cucumber (very flavorful – delicious!)

Din Tai Fung Taipei - famous for its soup dumplings, this restaurant is a must visit in Taipei. So many different dumplings and dishes to choose from.

Din Tai Fung Special (one of their original dishes – I liked the other vegetable dishes better)

A combination of seaweed, pressed tofu, bean sprouts and vermicelli

Din Tai Fung Taipei - famous for its soup dumplings, this restaurant is a must visit in Taipei. So many different dumplings and dishes to choose from.

Cold Dressed Wood Ear Mushrooms with Goji Berries (sweet and sour, refreshing)

Chinese food is all about textures – wood ear mushrooms are slightly crunchy

Din Tai Fung Taipei - famous for its soup dumplings, this restaurant is a must visit in Taipei. So many different dumplings and dishes to choose from.

Hot and Sour Soup (thin shreds of tofu and wood ear mushrooms, and not thick and gloppy like what you find most of the time in the U.S.)

Din Tai Fung Taipei - famous for its soup dumplings, this restaurant is a must visit in Taipei. So many different dumplings and dishes to choose from.

Stir Fried Amaranth Greens with Yuba (yuba is tofu skin – very delicate texture and delicious with the green vegetables)

Also available without yuba

Din Tai Fung Taipei - famous for its soup dumplings, this restaurant is a must visit in Taipei. So many different dumplings and dishes to choose from.

Noodles with Minced Pork Sauce (definitely worth a try)

Meat sauce includes pressed tofu and Chinese sausage

Din Tai Fung Taipei - famous for its soup dumplings, this restaurant is a must visit in Taipei. So many different dumplings and dishes to choose from.

Shrimp and Shredded Pork Fried Rice (delicious, although not sure why they are known for this dish – I’ve had similar or better fried rice elsewhere)

Din Tai Fung Taipei - famous for its soup dumplings, this restaurant is a must visit in Taipei. So many different dumplings and dishes to choose from.

Shaoshing Wine Marinated Chicken (good, although it’s an acquired taste – the wine flavor is quite strong)

Served cold as an appetizer

Din Tai Fung Taipei - famous for its soup dumplings, this restaurant is a must visit in Taipei. So many different dumplings and dishes to choose from.

Stewed Bamboo Shoots (subtle taste, tender, but firm texture)

It’s hard to describe the flavor of bamboo shoots, so if you’ve never had fresh bamboo shoots, this is worth a try

Din Tai Fung Taipei - famous for its soup dumplings, this restaurant is a must visit in Taipei. So many different dumplings and dishes to choose from.

One thing we discovered is that authentic Taiwanese cuisine is much more subtle in flavor than Americanized Chinese food. Although I like and am accustomed to stronger flavors, I learned to appreciate the nuances of the dishes we sampled.

Have you been to Din Tai Fung? There are many other locations in different countries as well as in California. I’d love to hear what you’ve tried.

Note: All these photos were taken with my iPhone 7 quickly before each dish was devoured (not an easy task!)

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Gallo Pinto (Costa Rican Rice and Beans) Recipe http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/gallo-pinto/ http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/gallo-pinto/#comments Mon, 22 May 2017 09:00:48 +0000 http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/?p=31347 Gallo Pinto (Costa Rican Rice and Beans) is a traditional side dish served at breakfast, lunch and dinner. This versatile side dish can be made in large batches and reheated throughout the week. A few weeks ago, I traveled to Costa Rica with my eldest son to explore this beautiful Central American country. We were struck...

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Gallo Pinto (Costa Rican Rice and Beans) - this versatile side dish can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Made healthier with brown rice.

Gallo Pinto (Costa Rican Rice and Beans) is a traditional side dish served at breakfast, lunch and dinner. This versatile side dish can be made in large batches and reheated throughout the week. A few weeks ago, I traveled to Costa Rica with my eldest son to explore this beautiful Central American country. We were struck by the natural beauty of Costa Rica, the friendly and happy local people we encountered, and the humble but delicious local food.
Gallo Pinto (Costa Rican Rice and Beans) - this versatile side dish can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Made healthier with brown rice.

Gallo Pinto is Costa Rica’s version of rice and beans, typically made with black beans. Gallo pinto was served at both breakfast buffets we ate at during our visit, as well as at lunch when we stopped to try Casado. Casado is a Costa Rican plate filled with a variety of food, usually gallo pinto, plantains, salad, picadillo, and some sort of protein. Read my post Five Days In Costa Rica to see all the amazing food and activities we did during our trip to Costa Rica.

Here’s a breakfast plate I had at the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort which included gallo pinto.

Gallo Pinto (Costa Rican Rice and Beans) - this versatile side dish can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Made healthier with brown rice.

I’ve been making gallo pinto and serving it for breakfast and dinner at home since I returned from Costa Rica. My youngest son has been enjoying gallo pinto, casado and other Costa Rican food I’ve tried making the past few weeks.

Here’s how I’ve been enjoying gallo pinto for dinner with grilled salmon.

Gallo Pinto (Costa Rican Rice and Beans) - this versatile side dish can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Made healthier with brown rice.

To make gallo pinto, the black beans and rice are first cooked separately.

I made a big batch of the black beans (1 pound of dried beans) and mixed some into the gallo pinto, and reserved the rest to make into refried beans and to serve over rice instead of mixed in with the rice like gallo pinto. The black beans are cooked with red bell pepper, onion, celery, cilantro, garlic and oregano. Here’s what it looks like before you add water. Dry beans need to be soaked overnight or quick-soaked (see package directions) before cooking. You can cook pre-soaked beans either in a pressure cooker (my favorite method when I’m in a hurry) or stovetop.

Gallo Pinto (Costa Rican Rice and Beans) - this versatile side dish can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Made healthier with brown rice.

Brown rice makes this a little healthier than the typical gallo pinto. Although I sauteed the vegetables on the stove, I used a rice cooker to finish cooking the rice (if you eat a lot of rice, it is definitely worth investing in a good rice cooker that includes a brown rice setting). This recipe uses 2 cups of cooked rice. Extra rice can be served as a separate side dish too.

Gallo Pinto (Costa Rican Rice and Beans) - this versatile side dish can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Made healthier with brown rice.

Once the beans and rice are cooked, mix them together in a one to one proportion along with some additional seasoning and you have gallo pinto.

Gallo Pinto (Costa Rican Rice and Beans) - this versatile side dish can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Made healthier with brown rice.

Gallo Pinto (Costa Rican Rice and Beans) - this versatile side dish can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Made healthier with brown rice.

Costa Rican Gallo Pinto Rice and Beans

Rice

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 stalk celery (finely chopped)
  • 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper (finely chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 cups long grain brown rice (rinsed 3-4 times, drained)
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Black Beans

  • 1/2 pound dried black beans
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 red bell pepper (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Gallo Pinto

  • 1 tablespoon organic butter
  • 1 teaspoon red bell pepper (finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro (minced)
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Rice

  1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan. Add celery, onion and bell pepper and suate until vegetables start to soften. Add garlic and cook for a minute. Add rice and cook until well coated and rice starts to turn opaque. 

    Transfer to a rice cooker, add water and salt, and cook on brown rice setting. Alternatively, cook on the stovetop. 

Black Beans

  1. Place beans in a large bowl and cover with 2 inches of water; let soak overnight. Drain beans and place in a pressure cooker, along with celery, garlic, onion, bell pepper, cilantro and oregano. Add water to cover ingredients with about 4 inches of water. Cook 14 minutes on high pressure (follow the instructions for your specific pressure cooker). 

Gallo Pinto

  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add red bell pepper, onion, cilantro and garlic and saute until vegetables begin to soften. Add 2 cups, cooked, drained black beans (recipe above), Worcestershire sauce, and cumin. Stir and simmer for about 2 minutes. Mix in 2 cups cooked rice (recipe above), toss gently and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

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Mango Avocado Black Bean Quinoa Salad Recipe http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/mango-avocado-black-bean-quinoa-salad/ http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/mango-avocado-black-bean-quinoa-salad/#comments Mon, 15 May 2017 09:00:00 +0000 http://174.120.127.67/~jeanette/2011/05/mango-avocado-black-bean-quinoa-salad.html Mango Avocado Black Bean Quinoa Salad is a beautiful, healthy salad that is perfect as a vegetarian main course salad or a side dish. I first made this vegetarian salad six years ago for a Ladies’ church luncheon. We used to host monthly lunches at people’s homes, and our pastor would stop by for a short...

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Mango Avocado Black Bean Quinoa Salad - this beautiful healthy salad is perfect for entertaining

Mango Avocado Black Bean Quinoa Salad is a beautiful, healthy salad that is perfect as a vegetarian main course salad or a side dish. I first made this vegetarian salad six years ago for a Ladies’ church luncheon. We used to host monthly lunches at people’s homes, and our pastor would stop by for a short discussion or Q&A session. Now that our church has gotten so much bigger, I’ve found that participating in small Bible studies are the best way for me to stay connected with other women from our church.

Mango Avocado Black Bean Quinoa Salad - this beautiful healthy salad is perfect for entertaining

Throughout this school year, I’ve been part of an incredible women’s Bible study group. Being around women of faith in a loving, supportive environment has helped me grow as a Christian, and deepen my faith. Our most recent study on love (Kelly Minter’s What Love Is study) was especially impactful. I learned that Christian love is so much more than having loving feelings towards someone. Loving in a Christian way means dying to ourselves, putting other people’s needs ahead of ours, being gracious to people we don’t like or we don’t deserve it, and loving people instead of judging them. This is not easy to do, but when I consider how much God loves me by allowing his son, Jesus, to die on the cross for my salvation, the proper and only response is for me to try to love others. It is the second most important commandment.

Matthew 22:38-40 – “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Mango Avocado Black Bean Quinoa Salad - this beautiful healthy salad is perfect for entertaining

This Mango Avocado Black Bean Quinoa Salad was originally inspired by a favorite Mango Salsa recipe. Quinoa and black beans make this salad heartier, so it can be served as a vegetarian/vegan main course salad or as a side dish. Last week when I made this for our Bible study celebration, I added the juice of an orange to add a little natural sweetness. This quinoa salad is gluten-free (and dairy-free) too, so this recipe meets the dietary needs of many people.

Mango Avocado Black Bean Quinoa Salad - this beautiful healthy salad is perfect for entertaining

If you’ve never cooked quinoa before, check out my How To Cook Quinoa post. Quinoa comes in different colors – red, white and black, so use your favorite.

Here’s the original mango avocado black bean quinoa salad I made six years ago, using red quinoa.

Mango Avocado Black Bean Quinoa Salad - this beautiful healthy salad is perfect for entertaining

Mango Avocado Black Bean Quinoa Salad

This is great for entertaining. Double the recipe for a large party. Serves as a side dish or vegetarian main course salad.

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons raspberry balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups mango (diced)
  • 1 1/2 cups avocado (diced)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (drained)
  • 1 red bell pepper (diced)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro (minced)
  • 1/4 cup mint (minced)
  • 1/4 cup scallions (minced)
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper (seeded, minced)
  • 1 lime (juiced)
  • 1 orange (juiced)
  • sea salt (to taste)
  • black pepper (to taste)
  1. To cook quinoa, place well rinsed quinoa in a small saucepan with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low and cook, covered, for 15 minutes or until water is completely absorbed and quinoa is fluffy. Transfer to a large bowl.

    Whisk together olive oil and raspberry balsamic vinegar. Add to quinoa and leave uncovered until cool. (Can be refrigerated until ready to finish making salad.)

    When quinoa is cool, add mangoes, avocado, black beans, red bell pepper, cilantro, mint, scallions, jalapeno pepper, lime juice and orange juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

If you like this Mango Avocado Black Bean Quinoa Salad recipe, you might also like:

Mexican Corn Quinoa Salad

Mexican Corn Quinoa Salad © Jeanette's Healthy Living

Mediterranea Quinoa Salad

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad - this healthy salad has all the flavors of a Greek salad. It's filling, yet light - delicious and so good for you!

Kale Quinoa Tomato Corn Salad

Kale Quinoa Corn Tomato Salad © Jeanette's Healthy Living

Quinoa Citrus Mango Avocado Salad

Quinoa Citrus Mango Avocado Black Bean Salad

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Five Days In Costa Rica http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/tips-for-five-days-in-costa-rica/ http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/tips-for-five-days-in-costa-rica/#comments Mon, 08 May 2017 09:00:33 +0000 http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/?p=31247 This post contains my itinerary for five days in Costa Rica, as well as tips for traveling to Costa Rica (taking advantage of travel perks, what to pack). I just returned from a once in a lifetime vacation to Costa Rica with my eldest son, and want to share what we did during our brief stay....

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Five Days in Costa Rica - a vacation full of adventure, food and beautiful nature

This post contains my itinerary for five days in Costa Rica, as well as tips for traveling to Costa Rica (taking advantage of travel perks, what to pack). I just returned from a once in a lifetime vacation to Costa Rica with my eldest son, and want to share what we did during our brief stay. A lot of planning went into this vacation to make the most of our five days in Costa Rica.

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Five Days in Costa Rica - a vacation full of adventure, food and beautiful nature

This is the first time I’ve gone away with my eldest son since he was 2 1/2 (right after the twins were born), and I have to tell you, traveling with an adult child is one of the coolest experiences. Having one-on-one time with my son was awesome and I savored every minute of our time together.

Also, traveling with just two people is much easier than traveling with a family of six, so we were able to experience a lot more in such a short period of time. We were both open minded to trying new experiences, which drove our itinerary to explore as much in five days in Costa Rica as we could.

Itinerary for Five Days In Costa Rica

We packed in a lot in five days in Costa Rica, including scuba diving, hiking around Arenal volcano, seeing La Fortuna waterfall, and taking a raft trip down Peñas Blancas River.

Day 1: Arrived at Liberia Airport and took hotel transportation to Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort in Guanacaste.  We were able to use JetBlue points and their family pooling program to book free flights one way. We also got a double upgraded room, a $100 room credit, and free breakfast buffet by booking our reservation through WhatAHotel.com. In addition, we got two free nights at the Andaz by signing up for a Hyatt Chase credit card several months in advance of our trip (you have to spend a minimum amount within the first few months of having the card to qualify for two free night). When you use the Hyatt Chase credit card, you will also avoid getting charged foreign taxes when used overseas.

Five Days in Costa Rica - tips and itinerary for an fun, action packed vacation full of adventure, food, wildlife and beautiful nature

We arrived in the afternoon, and headed straight to the adult pool and ordered the Caribbean ceviche (fish, shrimp and octopus with coconut milk, tomato and chili pepper) and a chorizo kebab (which is more like a burrito) for lunch from the restaurant Ostra. The ceviche was especially delicious.

Five Days in Costa Rica - tips and itinerary for an fun, action packed vacation full of adventure, food, wildlife and beautiful nature

We saw lots of howling monkeys in the trees by the pool, including a mom with a baby on her back. Andaz offers cooking classes so we signed up for a Mixology class at Chao Pescao which was excellent. The mixologist at Chao Pescao makes his own flavored bitters (e.g., orange, cocoa) and simple syrups (vanilla, basil, rosemary, orange, carrot, beet), and uses fresh fruit juices for cocktails. Cacique Guaro is a sugar cane liquor that is very popular in Costa Rica (similar to rum). Some of the fruits he used for the class are not available in the U.S. (e.g., naranjillas or lulu fruit) but I am hoping to try mixing my own drinks at home using tropical fruits that I can find.

Five Days in Costa Rica - tips and itinerary for an fun, action packed vacation full of adventure, food, wildlife and beautiful nature

After our mixology class, we enjoyed dinner at Chao Pescao.  The arepas were excellent (we tried the chicken arepas) as was the tuna mango tiradito (thinly sliced raw tuna with mango). Interestingly, the arepas were not stuffed like the Venezuelan arepas I’ve had. We also ordered empanadas which were okay – to be honest, I would not order them again.

Day 2: We got up early to try the bountiful breakfast buffet at Rio Bhongo (which included gallo pinto, tamales, fresh tortillas, papaya and mango) before heading down to the beach to get picked up for a scuba diving lesson. Gallo pinto is Costa Rica’s version of rice and beans that is often eaten at every meal. I think we ate gallo pinto all five days in Costa Rica.

Five Days in Costa Rica - tips and itinerary for an fun, action packed vacation full of adventure, food, wildlife and beautiful nature

We took a PADI Discover Scuba class through BA Divers, which lasted about 3 1/2 hours. Our instructor, Brian was excellent – he was very kind and patient with me as a timid first time scuba diver. He and his captain picked us up right on the beach at the Andaz. He demonstrated several basic instructions for scuba diving and we were asked to perform each one satisfactorily. I had to ask him to repeat several instructions a few times and he was great. I have to admit I was a bit anxious about this part of our trip, but I am so glad I was able to experience scuba diving for the first time with my son. After two dives, we returned to the hotel. For lunch, we headed to the Dive Bar Restaurant by the marina, a relaxed outdoor eating spot on the water. The fried snapper comes highly recommended and I have to agree, it was exceptionally fresh and delicious.

Five Days in Costa Rica - tips and itinerary for an fun, action packed vacation full of adventure, food, wildlife and beautiful nature

Later that afternoon, we took a ceviche cooking class at Ostra which was very fun and delicious. Each participant was able to create their own ceviche. I am looking forward to making my own ceviche at home.

Five Days in Costa Rica - tips and itinerary for an fun, action packed vacation full of adventure, food, wildlife and beautiful nature

We had dinner reservations at Cena Sociale, an Italian restaurant at the Four Seasons hotel (all the hotels on the Papagayo Peninsula provide complimentary transportation along the peninsula). We were so full from the ceviche class that we could barely eat another bite, but we really wanted to check out the Four Seasons. The poor waiter looked so disappointed when all we ordered was a salad and the spiny lobster pasta with creamy roasted garlic zucchini pesto to share. The pasta was amazing and the small portion was actually perfect for us because we really weren’t hungry. The Four Seasons looked like an amazing luxury resort hotel as expected. It had a much larger, grander feel than the Andaz, and appeared more family oriented. However, at more than twice the price of the Andaz, it is definitely a splurge.

Day 3: We left 9AM to travel 3 1/2 hours to the Arenal Volcano area and checked into the Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort. We arranged transportation through Jacamar Naturalist Tours (recommended by Tabacon and they have a desk in the hotel lobby).  We stopped at a coffee shop (touristy) along the way to get a beautiful view of Arenal Volcano.

Five Days in Costa Rica - tips and itinerary for an fun, action packed vacation full of adventure, food, wildlife and beautiful nature

Since I booked our rooms through WhatAHotel.com, we got a huge upgrade from a regular garden room to a two bedroom suite. It was enormous and very comfortable. Breakfast and two welcome cocktails were included and we also got a $75 spa credit.

Tabacon has amazing hot springs across the street from the hotel (5 minute walk). First we had lunch at the swim up bar (food was average). Then we tried at least 4 or 5 of the entry points into the hot springs. The hot springs are pretty hot (most are over 100 degrees), so we dunked in the cool pool first.

Five Days in Costa Rica - tips and itinerary for an fun, action packed vacation full of adventure, food, wildlife and beautiful nature

Five Days in Costa Rica - tips and itinerary for an fun, action packed vacation full of adventure, food, wildlife and beautiful nature

I had pre-booked back neck and shoulder massages in Tabacon’s open-air bungalows (we had a $75 spa credit because we booked the hotel through WhatAHotel.com). It was a really cool experience because the flowing hot springs served as the background music. I have to admit I found the massage too hard (and actually painful) and had to ask the masseuse to lay off a bit. If you’re like me and don’t like deep massages, ask about a lighter massage.

We enjoyed a delicious dinner at Los Tucanes at a table next to the lighted pool area. Two raccoons came right up to the table next to ours! When in Costa Rica, remember there is wildlife everywhere!

Five Days in Costa Rica - a vacation full of adventure, food and beautiful nature

Day 4: We got up 7AM to try the breakfast buffet at Los Tucanes, and were surprised to find a long line to get in. The night before, two large tour bus groups had checked into the hotel. The breakfast buffet included more local foods than the Andaz, including corn cakes, plantain casserole and something that resembled a quesadilla. Fresh guava, papaya and pineapple were also included.

Five Days in Costa Rica - tips and itinerary for an fun, action packed vacation full of adventure, food, wildlife and beautiful nature

We packed in two tours. The first tour was a morning hike around the base of Arenal Volcano (2.5 mile hike but uphill so good workout although not too strenuous).

Five Days in Costa Rica - tips and itinerary for an fun, action packed vacation full of adventure, food, wildlife and beautiful nature

I was disappointed there wasn’t more wildlife to see on the volcano tour, but we did spot a venomous eyelash viper, which are very dangerous.

Five Days in Costa Rica - tips and itinerary for an fun, action packed vacation full of adventure, food, wildlife and beautiful nature

We learned that when Arenal volcano erupts, it shoots out huge lava rocks.  Our guide was knowledgeable and had a great dry sense of humor, but I could have passed on this tour as there was not much to see. I was told by other tourists that the hanging bridges tour was the best way to see animals (not good for those afraid of heights and slightly swinging bridges!).
Five Days in Costa Rica - a vacation full of adventure, food and beautiful nature

Our afternoon tour to La Fortuna Falls was amazing and I highly recommend this tour. We walked 500 steps down and 500 steps back up – up was much harder than down! Both tours were booked through Jacamar Naturalist Tours and we found our tour guides very knowledgeable and professional.

Five Days in Costa Rica - tips and itinerary for an fun, action packed vacation full of adventure, food, wildlife and beautiful nature

Five Days in Costa Rica - tips and itinerary for an fun, action packed vacation full of adventure, food, wildlife and beautiful nature

Day 5: We decided to pack in one more tour in Arenal before heading back to Guanacaste to try to see more wildlife. We took the morning Safari Floating Adventure tour (3 1/2 hours) through Jacamar Naturalist Tours which was a relaxing raft ride down Peñas Blancas River.

Five Days in Costa Rica - tips and itinerary for an fun, action packed vacation full of adventure, food, wildlife and beautiful nature

We spotted three monkey troops as we glided down the river, as well an owl, porcupine, iguanas and Jesus Christ lizards (called this because they can run across water). If we had more time, I would have tried the Caño Negro wildlife refuge tour (further away from Tabacon and therefore a full-day tour).

Five Days in Costa Rica - tips and itinerary for an fun, action packed vacation full of adventure, food, wildlife and beautiful nature

Five Days in Costa Rica - tips and itinerary for an fun, action packed vacation full of adventure, food, wildlife and beautiful nature

Afterwards, we headed back to the Andaz hotel. Our driver (arranged through Jacamar Naturalist Tours) stopped on the roadside when he spotted some howler monkeys. We also stopped on the road to try casado, the standard Costa Rican plate which typically includes rice and beans, salad, picadillo, plantains, and meat or fish. One of my goals for our five days in Costa Rica was to sample as much local Costa Rican food as we could.

Five Days in Costa Rica - tips and itinerary for an fun, action packed vacation full of adventure, food, wildlife and beautiful nature

We also tried soursop (guanabana) juice which was delicious and sweet, and

Five Days in Costa Rica - tips and itinerary for an fun, action packed vacation full of adventure, food, wildlife and beautiful nature

chifrijo that our driver recommended, which is typically served as bar food. Chifijo is a liquidy layered dip of beans, pork (and crunchy pork skin) and pico de gallo. I have to admit I didn’t care for the pork in this dish. The skin was so hard you couldn’t eat it.

Five Days in Costa Rica - tips and itinerary for an fun, action packed vacation full of adventure, food, wildlife and beautiful nature

After we returned to the Andaz hotel, we went to the pool briefly before having dinner at Marea Restaurant at La Prieta Beach Club. Unfortunately, we arrived after dark so we couldn’t see our surroundings at all. I think this experience would have been much nicer if we had came before sunset. The food was average, although I suspect it might have been better had we enjoyed it with the sunset in view.

Departure Day: Before we left for the airport (a 45 minute ride), we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and did some last minute shopping at the gift store, and hung out at infinity pool for a little bit.

Five Days in Costa Rica - tips and itinerary for an fun, action packed vacation full of adventure, food, wildlife and beautiful nature

Five Days in Costa Rica - tips and itinerary for an fun, action packed vacation full of adventure, food, wildlife and beautiful nature

Instead of the breakfast buffet, we decided to order off the menu. My son ordered this baked sweet plantain with a fresh cheese called palmito cheese melted on top with cinnamon. Palmito cheese has a consistency like mozzarella but has more flavor.

Five Days in Costa Rica - tips and itinerary for an fun, action packed vacation full of adventure, food, wildlife and beautiful nature

I got one last fix of gallo pinto.

Five Days in Costa Rica - tips and itinerary for an fun, action packed vacation full of adventure, food, wildlife and beautiful nature

We asked our driver to stopped by a coffee shop on the way to the airport to do a little more shopping. One of our drivers had recommended peaberry coffee, so I picked up a pack. The beans are much smaller than regular coffee beans and are supposed to have wonderful flavor.

At the airport, bought some duty-free Cacique Superior Guaca (Costa Rican sugar cane liquor which cannot be found in the US (at least not easily)) and Liquor 45 which was much less expensive at the airport than in the U.S.

Thoughts On Traveling To Costa Rica

  • Due to time constraints, we only had four full days on the ground in Costa Rica. It would have been nice to have an extra day to just relax and hang out at the pool, but all in all, it was an amazing trip. I am glad we got to see so much in such a short period of time.
  • Highlights of the trip included La Fortuna Waterfalls, Tabacon Hot Springs, and seeing a lot of howler monkeys.
  • Disappointments: I would have liked to see some toucans and white faced and spider monkeys; if we had more time, we probably would have spotted some white faced monkeys in Guanacaste. Toucans and spider monkeys are much harder to see apparently.
  • Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort: great for couples, and smaller groups; quiet, low-key, excellent service; expect to walk up and down hills to get around, or take complimentary golf cart; tapas restaurant has great arepas; mixology class and ceviche class were excellent.
  • Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort: more international vibe; more homey feel; hot springs amazing; Los Tocanes restaurant very good; service excellent; recommend booking local tours in advance or at Jacamar Naturalist Tour desk in the hotel lobby.
  • Transportation: Although taxis are readily available, we arranged airport transportation through Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort, and transportation from Andaz to Tabacon through Jacamar Naturalist Tours. Roads can be windy and not clearly marked so unless you’re an adventurous driver (which I am not), I recommend taking a taxi or arranging alternative transportation to get around.
  • Tours: I recommend researching and booking tours in advance either through the hotel or a reputable local tour company (Tripadvisor is a great place to check reviews). I communicated with Jacamar Naturalist Tours by email extensively before our trip. Be clear what you want to do and see, as well as what you do not want to do.
  • Pros: Almost everyone speaks fluent English as it is the second language in Costa Rica; unless you are visiting very local places, there is no need to change currency to Costa Rican colones.

Tips For Traveling To Costa Rica

  • If you’re on E.S.T., stay on your original time zone. We went to bed early and woke up early for tours.
  • If you fly JetBlue, sign up for their family pooling program to share travel points and book free airfare.
  • Use American Express travel benefits or WhatAHotel.com for extra benefits at the same rate as the hotel charges, e.g., free breakfast, room or spa credit; room upgrades.
  • If you’re planning on staying at the Andaz, apply for a Hyatt Chase credit card and spend the minimum required to qualify for two free nights.
  • Experience as much as you can but give yourself some downtime if needed.  You can have a very different experience in Costa Rica depending on what part of the country you visit, e.g., resort area like Papagayo gulf, casual Tamarindo Beach, Caribbean side, or the city of San Jose.
  • If you’re planning on visiting an area more than 3 hours away from the hotel you’re staying at, consider staying a few days in that area. We actually saved money by moving to the Arenal area for a few days. The cost of transportation to Arenal and the Tabacon hotel was less expensive than if we had stayed at Andaz and booked day tours to Arenal from there.
  • Buy a waterproof case for your phone if you plan on going in or near the water (also handy if it rains).
  • Pack a pair of water shoes or light quick-drying shoes for waterfall hikes (it is very rocky in the water).
  • Bring plenty of bug spray and sun tan lotion.
  • Pack a light rain jacket and umbrella for occasional downpours.

Food Souvenirs from Costa Rica:

Although we stayed just five days in Costa Rica, we quickly discovered some favorite Costa Rican products that we wanted to bring back to the U.S. I quizzed our drivers for their favorite foods, recipes and local products.

Peaberry coffee – Costa Rica is known for its coffee, but peaberry coffee is a unique coffee bean that grows there. We enjoyed French press coffee during our stay in Costa Rica and I am thoroughly enjoying making fresh ground French press peaberry coffee now that I’m back in the U.S.

Five Days in Costa Rica - tips and itinerary for an fun, action packed vacation full of adventure, food, wildlife and beautiful nature

Hot sauce – Although Costa Rican food is not spicy, we loved this Costa Rican hot sauce – Monoloco Viejo Verde – at breakfast with our Gallos de Pinto. This cannot be purchased in the U.S. at this point in time.

Five Days in Costa Rica - tips and itinerary for an fun, action packed vacation full of adventure, food, wildlife and beautiful nature

Lizano Salsa/Sauce – This Costa Rican seasoning sauce which lists carrot paste, onion paste, cauliflower paste, and cucumber paste among its ingredients, is used to season beans, or added to scrambled eggs (per our tour guide). This product can be purchased on Amazon if you don’t have room to bring this home from Costa Rica.

Five Days in Costa Rica - tips and itinerary for an fun, action packed vacation full of adventure, food, wildlife and beautiful nature

Cacique Guaro – This sugar cane liquor is very popular in mixed drinks in Costa Rica. Cacique Guaro was the base liquor used in many of the drinks the mixologist made during our mixology class at Andaz. This liquor cannot be easily found in the U.S. at this point in time.

Five Days in Costa Rica - tips and itinerary for an fun, action packed vacation full of adventure, food, wildlife and beautiful nature

Next Time…

We packed a lot into five days in Costa Rica, but next time I would like to go for at least 7 days. I’m hoping to return to Costa Rica to explore more of this beautiful island. I’d love to spend some time on one of the west coast beaches, visit the Caribbean side, hike Celeste waterfalls, take a raft trip down Caño Negro to see more wildlife, and see some toucans, white faced monkeys and spider monkeys. I might even try the hanging bridges, white water rafting and ziplining. Each part of Costa Rica has its own unique character.

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Indonesian Shrimp Fried Brown Rice Recipe http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/indonesian-shrimp-fried-brown-rice-recipe/ http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/indonesian-shrimp-fried-brown-rice-recipe/#comments Mon, 01 May 2017 09:00:35 +0000 http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/?p=22447 This Indonesian Shrimp Fried Brown Rice is so flavorful, not your typical fried rice recipe. Years ago, my husband and I were fortunate enough to visit Bali. It was an amazing experience, and to this day, I have wonderful memories of the beautiful landscape, the friendly smiles, all the friends we got to know better, and...

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Indonesian Shrimp Fried Brown Rice - this Southeast Asian fried rice is sweet, savory and a touch spicy, perfect for any meal of the day

This Indonesian Shrimp Fried Brown Rice is so flavorful, not your typical fried rice recipe. Years ago, my husband and I were fortunate enough to visit Bali. It was an amazing experience, and to this day, I have wonderful memories of the beautiful landscape, the friendly smiles, all the friends we got to know better, and the feasts we were treated to. One of my favorite memories from that trip was the fried rice we were served each morning called Nasi Goreng.

Indonesian Shrimp Fried Brown Rice - this healthy dish is so flavorful - you have to try this!

I think I could eat this Indonesian Shrimp Fried Brown Rice dish almost every morning and never get tired of it. Sweet, spicy and salty, it will wake up your tastebuds in the morning.

Indonesian Shrimp Fried Brown Rice - this Southeast Asian fried rice is sweet, savory and a touch spicy, perfect for any meal of the day

Although I’m not claiming this is an authentic recipe, it has the flavors I remember, using sweet soy sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, onions, garlic, and Thai chilies.

Indonesian Shrimp Fried Brown Rice - this Southeast Asian fried rice is sweet, savory and a touch spicy, perfect for any meal of the day

Be warned, if you’re not a spicy food lover, leave out the chili sauce or cut back on it as this is fairly spicy. I loved it, but my son found it a tad too spicy.

Indonesian Shrimp Fried Brown Rice

Seasoning Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons Thai sweet soy sauce (Kwong Hung Seng Sauce)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce

Fried Rice

  • 6 ounces medium shrimp (shelled, deveined)
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine
  • 4 teaspoons oil
  • 2 whole eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 1/2 onion (finely chopped)
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 teaspoon Thai chili garlic sauce
  • 3 cups cold cooked brown rice (crumbled with your fingers)
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 2 scallions (finely sliced)
  1. Mix together Seasoning Sauce in a small bowl. 

Toss together shrimp, cornstarch and rice wine.

    Heat 2 teaspoons oil in wok; add beaten eggs and scramble until just set; break into pieces; set aside.

    1. Heat remainder 2 teaspoons oil in wok; add onion and garlic and saute until fragrant, just a minute or so. Add shrimp and spread in a single layer; flip over when lightly browned on the bottom and cook other side. Add rice and cook until warm. Add Seasoning Sauce, peas and scrambled eggs. Continue to toss another 3-4 minutes until rice and peas are hot. Sprinkle with scallions before serving.

    Be warned, if you’re not a spicy food lover, leave out the chili sauce or cut back on it as this is fairly spicy. I loved it, but my son found it a tad too spicy.

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