FOOD: the Staples – Rice, Noodles or Rice Noodles?

THE ULTIMATE CULINARY CARBS!  Do you have a preference?tofu2tofu1

Most people like either or and they’re both important food staples in most countries (especially Asia & Africa) even for breakfast where they’re sautéed with vegetables.  Here in North America we’re having a noodle moment with noodle places like The Noodle Box opening up all over….so tasty and comforting and versatile.  Rice is also nice but seemingly more ordinary – as in you don’t see rice joints opening up all over town…but it’s equally diverse.  I personally love both depending on what they’re served with (obviously noodles with Pad Thai & Spaghetti and rice with Paella & anything Indian).  It would be hard to make a specific choice because we need both (I don’t care what the diet books say – I’m sticking to this rule because there are so many varieties of either and gluten-free noodles are available). *Rice in all forms (white, brown, basmati and enriched rice) are all gluten-free.

There was recently in Vancouver a Taiwanese street festival where chefs battled out their unique rice or noodle recipes.  I was there but didn’t sample either. Instead I’m giving you two simple and satisfying one-pot dishes for both which you can improvise to your liking (after you read the recipe).  Enjoy!


Warm up a chilly evening with this light but satisfying one-pot meal. The tofu absorbs the flavors of this fragrant, spicy broth, making it anything but bland. Look for fresh Chinese-style noodles in the refrigerated case of your supermarket alongside wonton wrappers.

Makes: 6 servings, 1 1/2 cups each


  • 14 ounces firm tofu, preferably water-packed
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 4 cups vegetable broth, or reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chile-garlic sauce, or to taste
  • 4 cups thinly sliced tender bok choy greens
  • 8 ounces fresh Chinese-style (lo mein) noodles
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Drain and rinse tofu; pat dry. Cut the block into 1-inch cubes.
  2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add mushrooms and cook until slightly soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in sugar, broth, soy sauce and chile-garlic sauce; cover and bring to a boil. Add bok choy and tofu, cover and simmer until greens are wilted, about 2 minutes. Raise heat to high and add the noodles, pushing them down into the broth. Cook, covered, until the noodles are tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in cilantro.                                                                                                                       TIPS: Chile-garlic sauce is a spicy blend of chiles, garlic and other seasonings; it is found in the Asian section of the market.

Per serving: 251 calories; 7 g fat (1 g sat, 1 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 40 g carbohydrates; 13 g protein; 7 g fiber; 636 mg sodium; 191 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (45% daily value), Vitamin C (40% dv), Fiber (27% dv), Iron (20% dv).

 READER’S COMMENT: “Awesome!! we used Udon noodles in place of Lo Mein, but otherwise same recipe. The broth with garlic and ginger is fabulous! “


Take a handful of simple store cupboard ingredients and turn them into this hearty comforting dinner.


  • 200g basmati rice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp chopped rosemary or 1 tsp dried
  • 250g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 red peppers, sliced
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes (can use fresh)
  • 425ml vegetable stock
  • handful parsley, chopped


Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Tip the rice into a sieve, rinse under cold running water, then leave to drain. Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole, add the onion, then fry until softened, about 5 mins. Stir in the rosemary and mushrooms, then fry briefly. Add the rice, stir to coat in the oil, then add the peppers, tomatoes, stock and some freshly ground pepper. Bring to the boil, give it a stir, cover tightly with a lid, then bake for 20-25 mins until the rice is tender. Scatter over the parsley and serve.

TIPS: you can modify this recipe a little bit by
– using fresh tomatoes and tomato puré
– using chicken stock
– adding chicken and green chillies in recipe

*More about RICE:

Plain rice — regardless of whether it’s whole-grain brown rice, polished white rice, long-grained basmati rice or even exotic black rice — is always considered gluten-free.

So is the form of rice called glutinous rice, also known as sticky rice or sweet rice. Despite the name, it doesn’t contain the form of gluten that’s dangerous to those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance; the term “glutinous” simply refers to the fact that glutinous rice gets glue-like, or sticky, when cooked.

Source: Rice Recipe from Good Food magazine.                                                                Tofu Noodle Recipe from EatingWell: The EatingWell Diabetes Cookbook (this recipe is not just for diabetics – it just happens to come from the cookbook). xo

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Simply Italian: One-pan Orecciette with Chickpeas and Olives

getting started
getting started looks almost like soup

Here we go again….cooking with chickpeas.  Chickpeas (otherwise known as Garbanzo beans), like most legumes have long been valued for their fiber content. Do you know that people who consume garbanzo beans on a regular basis have better blood fat regulation including lower levels of LDL-cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides?

Orecciette pasta is much easier to find nowadays (I don’t remember how many stores I went through trying to find it years ago) – it has a tiny ear-shape look to it.  It really means just that:  from orecchio (ear) + etto (small).  There, now you can speak some Italian!

This recipe is from Everyday Food by Martha Stewart and it is a very simple but tasty dish.  So very Italian!

Then it becomes more
Then it becomes more

Ingredients to Serve 4:

12 ounces Orecchiette

1 can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

½ cup of Kalamata olives, pitted

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

1 6-inch sprig of Rosemary

3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

¼ tsp. red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 1 ½ ounces), plus more for serving

2 cups baby arugula (about 2 ounces)

Combine pasta, chickpeas, olives, tomato paste, garlic, rosemary, oil, pepper flakes, and 4 cups of water in a large straight-sided skillet.  Season generously with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente and liquid is reduced to a sauce that coats pasta, 12 to 15 minutes.

Remove skillet from heat, discard rosemary, and stir in arugula until just wilted and cheese to coat.  Add more water only if needed to thin out sauce, a few tablespoons at a time. Divide pasta among bowls and serve immediately, drizzled with oil and sprinkled with cheese and pepper flakes.

Finished Product.  I added Truffle Oil

buon appetito!








Simply Satisfying – Vegetarian Ceviche

Why shouldn’t vegetarians get to enjoy ceviche too? 

That’s exactly what I was thinking after sampling a delicious veggie ceviche on an appy menu at the Trio restaurant in Palm Springs.  I almost phoned them for the recipe but then it dawned on me – why don’t I just make it my usual way but substitute using tofu instead of white fish?  Here’s how:

Cut a block of extra firm tofu (in the package) into half lengthwise and then into 1 cm. cubes. Place in a pyrex dish and add enough fresh lime juice to cover the entire thing – about 6 regular size limes in total.  Cover with plastic wrap & leave sit in fridge for about 4 hours, then discard juice and add the following items to same dish:

Getting it together
Getting it together

*Cut up the following into roughly the same size pieces except for the jalapeño which should be seeded & finely chopped :

1 cup of grape or cherry tomatoes

1 small red onion

1 small jalapeño

handful of fresh Cilantro

Kalamata black olives

1 not overly ripe Avocado

1 not overly ripe Mango

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, course salt and black pepper to taste.

Serve with sliced lime for extra tartness & tortilla chips.

*I also had a side of tomatillo/avocada salsa.  Rave Reviews!

Link to my white fish ceviche post below:

last time I suggested the scallop bowls for serving - this time I used them.
Scallop shells for serving adds a nice touch

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