Category Archives: Snack Food

Coconut Chicken Strips and Broccoli Cheese Quinoa Cups

coconut Chicken strips and quinoa cups

This is the best picture I could manage the night I made these. The chicken strips reflect way too much light. I guess I should have been patient enough to brown them under the broiler. After the success of the tofu version of these I made, I couldn’t wait long enough. I came accross both of these recipes via pinterest and they immediately went to the top of my do make list. You can find the chicken strip recipe here on Budget Bytes. And the quinoa cups here on Iowa Girl Eats. Both of these recipes you don’t actually have to follow as they are flexible. Just look for inspiration and go with what you feel like.

Changes to the chicken strips:

  • added coconut milk powder to the coating mix instead of coating them in coconut milk
  • baked them at 170C for 25 minutes instead of frying

Changes to the quinoa cups

  • used steamed broccoli and shredded gouda (cheap supermarket stuff) as the addins
  • used a bit less quinoa so only used two eggs, no egg whites

 Where to find shredded coconut: in the cake baking section of your supermarket (very small bag for about 130 yen).

Where to find coconut milk powder: in the Asian food section of your supermarket near the Thai curry mix or an import shop. The spice maker S&B now makes small (about 30g) bags as addins for curry and they are located in the curry section.

Where to find quinoa: sometimes you can find small bags in import shops, health food stores, online at Rakuten, Amazon, etc. – it is called キヌア kinua in Japanese.

Where to find Thai Sweet Chili Sauce: the below pic is the only brand I’ve ever seen. It used to have English on it as well but the last bottle I bought doesn’t. It is in the Asian food section of supermarkets and should be readily available as it is used for spring roll dipping sauce.

coconut tofu fries

Coconut Tofu Fries

I saw a great looking coconut chicken with chili dipping sauce recipe on Budget Bytes and I knew I had to make them. I will make the chicken version in the future but I played around with tofu first. I had some coconut milk powder leftover from a curry a while ago and decided to use that as my coconut flavoring since I didn’t have any coconut. These have a hint of coconut flavor and taste great with sweet chili sauce.

Baked Coconut Tofu Fries

Inspired by this recipe

1 large block firm tofu
1 tablespoon coconut powder
1 egg
1 cup panko (Japenese bread crumbs)
salt and pepper to taste
Thai sweet chili sauce (for dipping)

Drain the tofu, wrap in a clean cloth and put something heavy on top to drain the water. Let sit for a couple of hours. When the tofu is drained, preheat the oven to 180 C. Cut the tofu into large fries – about steak fry size. Don’t cut them too thin or they will break. Put the panko, salt, pepper and coconut powder in a ziploc bag, seal and give it a shake. Put the egg in a bowl with a bottom wide enough to be able to coat the fries with ease and give it a quick whisk. Dip the fries in egg, give them a shake in the panko mixture and put them on an oiled or non-stick baking surface. Bake for 30 minutes. They should have started to brown. I took mine out early because I was hungry but you can go darker than the picture.

Thai Sweet Chili Sauce

Niku aspara

Niku Aspara

One of my favorite things to order at yakitori (chicken grilled on a skewer) places and izakayas (a kind of pub?) is nikuaspara (asparagus rolled in thinly sliced pork/beef and grilled). I can’t get enough. I have always made it with pork at home but beef was relatively reasonable this week so I decided to give it a shot. Since I don’t usually eat beef I wanted something comfortable and to me that means Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce – I use it on steak every time I eat it.  This ended up tasting a lot different from what you would usually get in Japan. The taste was simple and very familiar to me and I really enjoyed it.

Asparagus Rolled in Beef

5 asparagus spears
5 large pieces of shaved beef
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon cooking sake
salt and pepper, to taste

Mix the Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and sake in a small bowl and sprinkle over the meat. Let marinate for about 15-20 minutes. Trim the asparagus and parboil it for a couple of minutes, until the color becomes richer. Wrap one piece of meat around each asparagus spear. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. If you are in Japan, grill in the fish grill of your stove. If you are outside of Japan, broil. In the fish grill it took ten minutes for the meat to get a little crunchy. Cook until your desired level of browness on the outside. Serve hot.

My First Homemade Ochazuke


I have discovered that ochazuke is hard to photograph. This is the best I could do with my old iPhone 3G. Anyway, this was my first time both making and eating ochazuke. I have always avoided it because I am not big on rice being the main part of my meal. I woke up with an urge to eat it and decided to give it a shot. After looking at the plethora of recipes on Cookpad, I consulted twitter to find the ideal dashi/tea ration. La Fujimama mentioned that one of her friends swears by half dashi and genmai tea. That sounded like a winning combination to me. It was really good. I am going to have to regulary make this. There are so many topping combinations to be tried.

Salmon Ochazuke

Serves two as main dish, four as side dish

2 cups rice cooked with 15g of hijiki
1 salmon fillet (most people use the salty kind)
one large pinch of nori ribbons per bowl
200mL dashi (fish stock)
200mL genmai tea
salt, to taste

Broil the salmon – mine took eight minutes. While the fish is cooking, make the tea and mix with hot dashi and season with salt. Put rice into bowls. When the fish is done, break into pieces and divide evenly among bowls. After you add the fish, pour the tea/dashi mixture over the bowls (200mL for main dish, 100mL for side dish). Top with nori ribbons and serve.

Apple Sandwiches


Angela at Oh She Glows did a post on healthy kids snacks. Apple sandwiches caught my eye. Yum.

Basically you slice an apple into an even number of slices, cut out the core and spread with a nut butter of your choice.  Last week I made them with homemade cashew butter and this time I used almond butter. I sprinkled cinnamon and ground flax on the inside. This was a good, light breakfast for a hot summer day.

For those of you in Japan, check your grocery store. If you see New Zealand Jazz or Envy apples buy them immediately. I found them in small town Saitama and haven’t seen them here in Chigasaki. SO.very.good.

Lettuce wraps twice in one day

I had lettuce wraps twice today. I tried Gina’s method of trimming the spine for optimum rolling of leafy greens. For lunch I made miso hummus and wrapped it up in romaine lettuce with mango. The tomatoes on top looked amazing but were a bit of letdown.

For dinner I was too lazy to trim the spines so I folded them in half horizontally.  More like a lettuce boat.  What you see is hiyamugi noodles (soumen would be just as great) and beef fried in yakiniku sauce.

Two healthy appley snacks

A few days ago the supermarket had a special on apples.  One bag (that you fill yourself) for 500yen ($6?).  I managed to fit ten apples in the bag.  When I got home to try them I understood why they would be on sale in Japan – they were a bit tart with a nice, strong flavor.  Just like apples back home and very different from the bland, overly sweet apples preferred by the Japanese.  Anyway, I got to making some appley desserts.  They are almost sugar free (some sugar in the walnut butter) as I don’t really like sweet things at the moment.  If you like sweet things add a bit of sugar to the puree.

First up, baked apple topped with walnut butter.  I used this cinnamon walnut butter recipe and added some vanilla.

Baked Apple Topped with Walnut Butter

1 apple, cut into rounds and cored
walnut butter

Preheat the oven to 400F/200C.  Spread walnut butter on the apple rounds.  Place the rounds, walnut butter side up, on a baking sheet.  Bake for about 20min or until the apple is a desired consistency.

Apple and Sweet Potato Puree

1 sweet potato
1 apple
cinnamon to taste

Quarter, peel (optional) and slice the apple into thin slices.  Slice the sweet potato thinly.  Layer sweet potato, apple and cinnamon in a crock pot or soup pot.  Add water until half full.  Cover and simmer on low for a few hours.  Puree and serve.  This also tastes good unpureed.

Sweet Potato Fries

Another health blogger trend right now is sweet potato fries. At first I thought that sweet potato and savory spices wouldn’t go together but I was wrong.  I gave them a try the other day as a snack food for movie night.  I loved them and will definitely make them again.  This recipe is not that exact as I tend not to measure what I add unless I am trying someone else’s recipe.  These will definitely be a repeat.  I am actually planning on making another flavor today.

Sweet Potato Fries

2 large sweet potatoes or several small ones
1-2 tablespoons of the oil of your choice (I had to use regular cooking oil as I am out of olive oil)
1-2 dashes garlic powder
1-2 dashes oregano
1-2 dashes thyme
1 dashes basil
1-2 dashes salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Cut your sweet potatoes into your desired size (I think I will do wedges next time).  Some people peel the fries and some don’t.  As you can see I didn’t.  If you have a slightly deep dish, lightly oil it and put the fries in a heap in the middle. If you are using a flat baking pan put the fries in a mixing bowl.  Drizzle the fries with the oil, mix, add the spices and toss. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until they are a little brown and soft inside.

Next time I am going to make them with taco seasoning on them.  Yum!

Tex Mex Hummus

Up until quite recently I avoided making hummus because I thought you had to add tahini, lots of garlic and raw onions, three things I don’t enjoy.  While you can add them, you don’t need to.  I have been inspired by all of the healthy living blogs I have been reading to add more beans to my life.  I think this is my third hummus.  I used cannellini beans purely because I had never tried them before – I’m sure I’ve eaten them in restaurants but have never cooked with them before.  This one is really easy to make.  You may notice the green bits in the pic.  My food processor doesn’t seem to be able to get herbs down to small pieces.  This one tastes best if you let it sit for a while and let the flavors meld – especially if your herbs don’t get chopped as small as they should.

Tex Mex Hummus

1 can beans of your choice (the standard can in Japan is 12oz)
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1-2 tablespoons taco seasoning mix (seems to be readily available in Japan)
1 glug of olive oil (probably 1-2 tablespoons)
1/2-1 teaspoon salt (I used sea salt)
a few dashes of black pepper
juice of half of a lemon

Put everything in the food processor and whir until smooth.  Let sit in the fridge a few hours before serving.

Note: If you like raw garlic and onions in dips I would add some.  I don’t but think it would add to the flavor.

One way to eat is on a bagel.  I topped it with roasted eggplant.

I also had it on flat bread and stuffed in green peppers.  Sorry for the poor pic quality.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

The hubby is trying to gain weight and I thought I would come up with a way to add some more protein and calories to the usual baked oatmeal bars I make.  This recipe is a hybrid of the baked oatmeal bars from Kat Eats Real Food and the peanut butter and honey granola bar recipe on Active Life Cooking (hasn’t been updated since January but has lots of yummy looking recipes).  I didn’t add any sugar to them since I used sweetened protein powder in them.  They are not sweet at all so if you live in North America you will probably want to add some sugar.  After living in Japan for so long, I can only take half of the sweetness of low sugar recipes from back home.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

2 cups rolled oats
2 tablespoons flax seed
3/4 cup mixed seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, etc.)
2 tablespoons quinoa
1/2 cup chocolate protein powder
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 1/4 cup milk (I used soy milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 170C.
In a large bowl mix the oats, flax seed, mixed seeds, quinoa, protein powder, cinnamon and salt.  In a small bowl mix the milk, egg, peanut butter and vanilla with a whisk until the peanut butter is combined with everything else.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until combined.  Pour into a parchment lined square or rectangular pan.  Bake for about 50 minutes.  Cool before cutting.  I made ten smallish bars.