Recipe: Udon Noodle, Shrimp, and Vegetable Stir-Fry Salad

When most people think of a stir-fry they typically think of a rice dish.  While rice has a nice density to hold up against vegetables and meat, noodles if prepared right, can be a welcome change.  Udon or Soba noodles are an excellent whole grain alternative.  The Japanese Udon noodle, commonly served in noodle soups, is generally made from either buckwheat or whole wheat flour.  Whole wheat pastas have unfortunately gotten a bad rap though as they often come out mushy.  The key to cooking them, whether it be Japanese Udon or Italian Spaghetti, is to ensure even cooking.  To do this, bring your salted water to a rapid boil, stir in noodles and ¼ cup cold water, bring water back to a boil, add ¼ cup cold water and stir noodles, bring water back to yet another boil, add one more ¼ cup of cold water and stir noodles.  Remove pot from heat and let sit for 2-3 minutes.  Drain and rinse in cold water.  It sounds like a lot of work, but trust me, it only takes a few minutes and you will not have to worry about overcooked wheat pastas again.

This vegetable and shrimp stir-fry hits every mark; it’s full of nutrients, the flavor combination is delicious, it’s aesthetically pleasing, and it’s easy to prepare.  It’s the perfect weeknight, light and healthy, yet filling and substantial dinner.  If that’s not enough, it’s also perfectly wonderful served cold.

Udon Noodle, Shrimp, and Vegetable Stir-Fry Salad

Serves 2-4 Continue reading

Quick Tip: Fruit and Vegetable Sticker Codes

It’s hard to believe that those irritating little labels stuck on fruits and vegetables provide beneficial information to everyday consumers.  Although their purpose is actually intended for the International Federation for Produce Standards, these stickers quickly and easily identify whether fruit is full of pesticides and chemicals, when it’s genetically modified and even when it’s organic.  Additionally,  knowing the basics of sticker codes allows you to double check the produce your choosing, ensuring your buying what you really want.

The codes are applied to fruits and vegetables, as well as herbs and nuts, although labels are typically found only on fruits.  The labels consist of four or five numbers and are divided into three categories: conventional, genetically modified, and organic.

Conventional – A 4-digit number: four-digit coded fruit is conventionally raised (potentially contaminated with pesticides, chemicals and petroleum-based fertilizers).

GMO – A 5-digit number, the first number is an 8: This fruit is genetically modified, a GMO.  It contains genes that were not put there by nature, in other words, scientists are using technology to transfer the genes of one species to another.

Organic – A 5-digit number, the first number is a 9: This fruit has been grown to the standards defined by the National Organic Standards Board (potentially free of chemical fertilizers and pesticides).

For Example: Bananas

#4011 conventional     #84011 genetically modified     #94011 organic