Category Archives: steamed cuisine

Bamboo steamer: be careful what you buy

jolie1Bad news for the unsuspecting bamboo steamer-purchaser who’s recently come under the illusion of tasty, healthy food:

Not all bamboo steamers are equal.

Some are rather flimsy, cheaply put together to be priced more competitively. Regrettably but understandably the poorer quality lasts a shorter time.

When you look to buy a steamer, make sure the outer rim is thick and round. Since the rim is the chief support of the steamer, it is the critical structural component for longevity:

jolie2When you buy a steamer, study gaps between the slats. The curved cuts provide maximized steaming AND support. This intricately assemblage takes longer than the flat slats with gaps between them. This is fine craftsmanship.

When you look to buy a steamer, look at the thickness of the slats. Obviously it’s cheaper to put thinner wood for the supporting slats. And yes, the thinner wood will work… for a while. But then it will break, and you’ll have to get another steamer. The thicker slats lasts longer. The snugly fitted assembly, not tied with flimsy strands (which some brands do), also contributes to the overall sturdiness and longevity of the steamer. For the rest of the useful tips for buying a bamboo steamer, click on the link. If you’re shopping for a bamboo steamer, check all the quality points.

Here’s a good one:

best bamboo steamer

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How to steam fish fillet in bamboo steamer

steamed fish bamboo steamerFor piping hot yet tender delicious fillets, a bamboo steamer is ideal! The trick is to line the basket trays with lettuce leaves (Romaine works well). I put lemon slices in with the lettuce so that the juices can saturate the fillet. Try 1 ½ lb of cod, halibut or salmon. Depending on the thickness of the filet, it will take 4 to 12 minutes; the flesh should whiten and lose its translucent appearance.

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and your favorite herbs. Or try the Chinese way with sprinkled fresh ginger and scallions on top. Find out the basics for use of bamboo steamers, including steaming broccoli.

Steaming broccoli with a bamboo steamer

steamed broccoliIt’s easy to want to eat more broccoli because it’s a superfood packed with nutrients and fiber for digestion. But broccoli is either too tough raw or wilted if boiled. This is where a bamboo steamer comes to the rescue! The steaming takes off the tough edge of the broccoli and keeps in the nutrients you crave. The bamboo basket brings a subtle authentic touch from China and keeps molecules from the metal steamer baskets from contaminating your food.

IMG_9533Here the steps to perfect steamed broccoli:

  1. Cut into bite-size florets. I like to use pre-cut florets from Costco because they save me this time-consuming step. Most people prefer not to eat the stems anyway, but if you do eat the stems, that extra roughage is a windfall for your digestion.
    You can use wax paper liners or parchment sheets, which you can use by loosely wrapping around the vegetables.
  2. Bring water in wok to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Let the steam filter through the cracks between the bamboo slats for 3 to 4 minutes. If you like the broccoli crisper, steam for less time. If you prefer tender florets, then steam for a bit longer.
    Add some pizzazz by adding bullion into your boiling water. Alternatively, cook the broccoli on the top basket with fish or chicken on the bottom. NOTE: If you cook a protein on the bottom, it will take longer, so you may want to remove the broccoli sooner and place the bamboo lid on the bottom basket.
  3. A lot of people put butter or olive oil with herbs on their steamed broccoli. But I like the Chinese oyster sauce for a rich, appetizing flavor that will make you want more of this most healthy of vegetables.

Read about other tips for bamboo cooking.

Nuts and bolts post of bamboo steamers

dimsumBamboo steamers are all the rage for a reason. It turns out that the ancient Chinese knew a thing or two about keeping nutrients and flavor in their ingredients. The double-tier bamboo basket provides the additional benefit of allowing flavors to inter-mingle. But you can amp up your flavor by boiling broth in the bottom water!

Once you have your bamboo steamer from China, here’s the simple steps that are absolutely necessary for best results:

  • Line the bottom with lettuce or cabbage leaves. Alternatively, you can buy special wax paper liners that are easy to use. This step is important because the cooking food will otherwise stick to the bamboo slats that comprise the steamer and make a sticky mess. You can put your fish on the bottom tier and vegetables on the top one.
  • Place the interlocking tiers into a wok or other pot with approximately two inches of water. Make sure the level of the food doesn’t submerge in the water or you will have boiled food! Simmer on low heat for the allotted time. Make sure the water doesn’t boil off.
  • Serve and enjoy piping hot over rice!
  • Clean the bamboo steamer with a soft dish soap, never in the dishwasher. Make sure it is thoroughly dry before storing in the cupboard. The same bamboo that makes for healthy and natural food is also delicate and susceptible to mold!
  • The wok works best for the bamboo steamers, but an open skillet will work. Make sure the bamboo ring on the bottom is slightly submerged in the water to avoid burning (including slow burn).

cuisine natural bamboo steamerThese bamboo cooking baskets require a bit of learning curve, but once you get used to them, it’s easy to get addicted. The flavor and texture is superior to boiled vegetables! The fish comes out tender with no blackened burn marks or greasy oil! Read the rest of how-to-use bamboo steamers.

Confessions of an ex-junk food junkie

junk foodI have a confession: I love junk food.

I would probably eat it everyday.

But I know that it will kill me. It’s loaded with calories, salt, fat, preservatives. It comes up short on nutrition. So I avoid it.

I’m not so much of a health freak to NEVER eat junk food. But I try to limit it to once a week. The rest of the time, I try to stay health.

Officially, weekends are “cheat days” to not live in dietary misery. I indulge an ice cream on Friday night. I don’t watch my calories.

Ashcraft family

I’m the tall guy in middle. I’m 51.

But Monday through Friday lunch, I’m pretty good about being intelligent about food selection. My tongue doesn’t feel good; my body does. I enjoy the benefits of feeling healthy depriving my tongue of daily delights (those are saved for weekends).

And the benefits I feel in my body are great. I have energy. I don’t get sick. I go to the gym and have strength. I enjoy walking up stairs without struggling. I don’t go to the doctor or the hospital. I do my work with zest and passion and don’t have to lie down and recover. My body delights in health (though my tongue gets deprived of the rush of emotion over super tasty foods).

Here’s what’s amazing and possible: I actually enjoy the healthy food now. I savor the broccoli, the asparagus, the not-fried chicken, the salads, the food without heavy cream sauces and cooking without grease and fat.

Yes, it’s possible.

My experience is that you can literally retrain your taste buds.

I think it takes years. It has taken me years. Right now, I’m actually grossed out by soda if I drink it. As hard as that may to believe.

nutrients flavor bamboo steamerMy journey towards healthful eating and healthfulness has led me to selling bamboo steamers on Amazon. People are absolutely fanatical about bamboo. They conserve nutrients better and absorb some of the steam so that Chinese buns come out right. I have discovered that steaming fish fillets to take into work with me is NOT slower than warming fish sticks in the toaster oven. If you want to buy one and try it for yourself, here’s the link.

Step up your steaming game

asian-food-deliciousFor those who are looking to level up their kitchen skills, a bamboo steamer offers a more natural way to steam fish and vegetables — and it’s not just for Chinese cooking. Steaming conserves nutrients better than most other types of cooking. Of course, it reduces fat content because no oil is needed to keep the food from sticking to the pan.

I’m going to be honest: The bamboo steamer sounded pretty exotic to me, and I imagined it would more difficult to use. What I found was that it really isn’t difficult. Here’s the down and dirty truth: Because I’m addicted to “fast cooking,” I used to throw frozen fish sticks into the toaster oven. They took about 6 minutes. Now I place refrigerated fillets on Napa cabbage leaves in my steamer. It takes about 6 minutes.

The kicker: I’m moving away from processed food.

This is a huge bonus because prepared and package convenient food means “processed.” Every time you eat processed food, you’re taking a hit of salt, sugar and fat.

bamboo steamer with a bowl inside

You can use a bowl to keep the food from sticking to the bamboo. I prefer the Napa cabbage.

My favorite brand of fish sticks said on the label “lightly processed,” so I thought I was doing well. Then I checked the sodium content, and guess what: it was high. Salt is used to cover up a lot of mishaps in the processed food industry. It gets added to create craving and hook repeat customers. You don’t even realize it’s there, but it’s pulling you back to another purchase.

When I steam, I control the amount of salt, which is creating a heart disease epidemic in the United States.

the end of the fish stick

The end of the frozen fish stick

One more thing: washing. Is cleaning the bamboo steamer more difficult than the toaster over tray. I used to soak the toaster oven tray in water with dish soap and then scrub it with stainless steel scouring pad. It took a tool on my sensitive skin.

Now I use a soap-saturated sponge on the bamboo steamer, rinse thoroughly and let dry. The drying is the tricky point on the bamboo steamer. It has to dry thoroughly or mold or mildew and grow. I have found that if you leave the top off and store it on an open shelf after drying, it’s good.

The net time for cleaning? The bamboo steamer is quicker and easier.

This is my experience with the bamboo steamer. Why don’t you tell me your yours in the comments?

Would you like to buy a 10-inch bamboo steamer? I’m selling to supplement my ministry.

How to cut sugar without stress

sugar addictionBusiness Insider recently showed how sugar is becoming the #1 culprit (ahead of fatty foods) behind the current weight gain epidemic. Naturally.

So concerned diet experts are targeting sugar consumption. Unfortunately sugar already has been targeting you — usually with great success.

If you feel your own powerlessness, you’re not alone. Like starting a fitness routine, there are right ways and wrong ways to start a sugar-reduction plan.

Today. Right now.

Ready?

Here’s seven tips to slay sugar:

1. Your stomach doesn’t really care. Your brain does. Find alternative rewards for your brain: Sugar fires off dopamine production in your brain, a key component of addiction. Unlike a balanced meal (which can also trigger dopamine but tapers off if repeated), sugar keeps flooding the brain with warm fuzzies. It is this overactive reward system that creates craving.

Suggestion: Source the pleasure hormone elsewhere:

  • Consume large quantities of meat and other proteins, specifically Tyrosine which can be found in almonds, avocados, bananas, chocolate, coffee, eggs, green tea and watermelon.
  • Eat yogurt, kimchee, pickles, some cheeses or other foods rich in probiotics.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Enjoy music.
  • Meditate.
  • Get sunlight.
  • Consider supplements as curcumin, ginkgo biloba, L-theanine, acetyl-l-tyrosine
  • Get a massage. Hug your family. Get a pet.
  • Learn something new. Make new discoveries. Develop and satisfy your curiosity.
  • Divide your duties into small tasks and check them off as you go. A sense of accomplishment releases dopamine.

Other reward hormones: Other feel-good hormones also provide potent sugar substitutes:

  • Endorphins — from significant exercise. Go to the gym.
  • Serotonin — from feeling significant or important. Socialize.
  • Oxytocin — from feeling cherished, cuddled, intimate or trusted. Get support from family and friends. Cultivate relationships.
  • Adrenaline — from fear or competition. Ride a roller coaster, make a high risk investment, or watch a horror movie.

2. Rewire your brain. Neurobiologists are changing the way we see human weakness (addiction). A bad habit is not simply dusted away — or ridiculed by the strong. It’s actually rooted in your brain. It turns out that there are neural highways in your gray matter. The more you reinforce any behavior, the more electro-chemical pulses are fired along certain pathways. Dendrites are even added to the most used thoroughfares, and pulses are sped up.

Yikes! your brain literally aids and abets your addiction.

To forge a new path is to head off through brambles and crawlers; it will be slow go. You’re off the beaten path, so the walking is not easy. This is not only bad news because it’s not impossible, just hard. You can “re-wire” your brain, but you need to be realistic. It might takes weeks, months, even years.

Suggestion: Journal your progress. Set small goals towards a larger objective. Don’t be discouraged by setbacks. If you “fall off the wagon,” get back immediately. Get a empathetic support group or accountability partner. Repetition is the key to forming both bad and good habits, so try to steer clear of sugar over and over.

3. Identify negative emotions. There’s a reason why they’re called “comfort foods.” The are a happy-reset button. What are the emotional storm clouds you escape from? Here are a few common factors inducing sugar addiction:

  • Stress — The inability to handle stress well is ripe fruit for escapism.
  • Fear/ anxiety — Ditto above.
  • Boredom — The dull lulls of life make you want to zest up your life with some tasty morsels.
  • Loneliness — Social isolation, anxiety and rejection bring a heavy emotional cost.
  • Frustration — Failure and setbacks bring depression, from which you naturally want to take a break.

Suggestions: Developing strategies for these and other negative emotions may require some outside help from a trusted counselor. You might get inspiration from a good book or some motivational videos on YouTube. Journaling can help you analyze, dissect and give you the objectivity to overcome these. Get a hobby, take up gaming, learn a new language or play the guitar. Read the four other tips for cutting sugar without stress.

bamboo steamer kitchen revolutionMr. Mustard Seed is selling 10″ bamboo steamers on Amazon as a way to help the health habit. Profits go to his ministry.

Yummy Cha: How a biracial couple shared what they learned about bamboo steamers

Dianna and MikeShe was a Chinese-American who studied to be an engineer at UCLA. He studied English literature and became a journalist. She flourished at designing the HVAC systems in skyscrapers in Los Angeles. He dropped out of journalism, a dying field, and became a teacher at a small private school in Santa Monica.

Dim Sum brunchShe loved Chinese food and taught him the finer things of Asian cuisine. He grew passionate about fitness and healthy eating. They enjoyed what the learned and ate together.

Then, Dianna and Mike decided to fuse their tastes and skills and help others discover what the secrets of the Ancient Orient can help Americans lose weight, get better nutrition and enjoy food!

nutrients flavor bamboo steamerCuisine Natural was born, with an initial 10-inch bamboo steamer on Amazon. They stayed in love and brought what they loved to others.  Read the rest about Yum Cha or Yummy Cha.

Bamboo steamers

dim sum 1In Guangzhou at the epicenter of dim sum, they don’t dare to use metal steamers even in restaurants.

But here in LA, they are drawn to cut corners. The metal steamers are industrial, useful for frequent use, easy cleaning. But you lose something in the cheapening process. You lose authenticity and flavor. Metal implements inevitably contaminate.

So the best option at home is the bamboo steamer. You’re not likely going to cook 10 varieties of Chinese buns all at once. You’re probably not going to steam everyday. (The bamboo steamer needs to be dried at least a day.)

As I go along in life, I’m learning more and more about health. I’ve cut soda out, cut down on sugar, increased gym exercise. Now, I’ve stumbled upon steaming with bamboo. Nice trick. My partner and I, wanting to find a source of income to help in ministry, are selling bamboo steamers on Amazon. Check us out.

How to use a bamboo steamer?

how to use a bamboo steamerBamboo steamers are all the rage for a reason. It turns out that the ancient Chinese knew a thing or two about keeping nutrients and flavor in their ingredients. The double-tier bamboo basket provides the additional benefit of allowing flavors to inter-mingle. But you can amp up your flavor by boiling broth in the bottom water!

Once you have your bamboo steamer from China, here’s the simple steps that are absolutely necessary for best results:

  • Line the bottom with lettuce or cabbage leaves. Alternatively, you can buy special wax paper liners that are easy to use. This step is important because the cooking food will otherwise stick to the bamboo slats that comprise the steamer and make a sticky mess. You can put your fish on the bottom tier and vegetables on the top one.
  • Place the interlocking tiers into a wok or other pot with approximately two inches of water. Make sure the level of the food doesn’t submerge in the water or you will have boiled food! Simmer on low heat for the allotted time. Make sure the water doesn’t boil off.
  • Serve and enjoy piping hot over rice!
  • Clean the bamboo steamer with a soft dish soap, never in the dishwasher. Make sure it is thoroughly dry before storing in the cupboard. The same bamboo that makes for healthy and natural food is also delicate and susceptible to mold!
  • The wok works best for the bamboo steamers, but an open skillet will work. Make sure the bamboo ring on the bottom is slightly submerged in the water to avoid burning (including slow burn).

These bamboo cooking baskets require a bit of learning curve, but once you get used to them, it’s easy to get addicted. The flavor and texture is superior to boiled vegetables! The fish comes out tender with no blackened burn marks or greasy oil Read more about how to use a bamboo steamer? 

Retaining vitamins – how a bamboo steamer helps

retaining vitamins with a bamboo steamerBoiling vegetables saps their nutrition. As does frying.

A better way is to steam. I prefer the bamboo steamer because it is more natural. The round-shaped two-tier basket sits snugly in your wok or rounded-edge fry pan. You bring the water to boil in the bottom and the hot vapor filters through the bamboo weave to caressingly cook, not torch nor drown, the natural goodness pulled from the earth. No butter, no oils, no fats are needed to bring them to tender and crisp perfection.

If we’ve learned anything in recent decades, it’s that processes bleach nutrition from the food. Early food scientists actually re-injected chemical nutrients into food (bleached white flour, for example) and thus “fortified” the food. Well, the early optimism about that option has fizzled. Now the focus is on less processes for healthier food to retain vitamins. But have you thought about your home?