Seeking opinions

Hi everyone!

So, our last #dsma chat got me thinking, I really want to do something special for World Diabetes Day this November.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m currently enrolled in a pre-med, postbacc graduate program. This translates to, all of my classmates want to be doctors or dentists, and we’re in grad school.

So here’s my thinking. Grad students (well, most people actually) love free food, and since diabetes affects all aspects of a patient’s health, I figured if anyone should care, it’s my class. So for WDD I was planning on getting a big basket of granola bars (or other non-perishable, kind of healthy snack) from Whole Foods and put a little sticker with the blue circle and “WDD” on it. I’d also have a little sign explaining it’s WDD with a link to IDF’s site.

So, here’s where you come in. I got feedback from a couple different people. One person says it’s a great idea since diabetes awareness isn’t widely publicized, and is optimistic that people would be interested. Note, he has Type 1 diabetes.

The second person said it was sort of a weird thing to do, and could verge on preachy/annoying. Paraphrasing, “If someone came in with breast cancer granola, I would think that was weird unless I was at an event for breast cancer. So, this could be weird.” Note, this person does not have diabetes.

So now I’m torn. As much as I want to be an advocate for the community I’m worried about coming off as preachy and annoying! What do you think? Weird, or go ahead and do it?

Rc

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Sinigang for Dinner

My favorite food growing up was a Filipino dish called sinigang. It’s a dish that is very close to my heart.

Okay, so what is it? It’s a soup that consists of meat, vegetables, light broth and, specifically the one I grew up with, a sour component. In this case it’s tamarind.

There is something so tribal and comforting about gathering around together to share a meal. For me this was the one meal that we all gathered around and shared. Except for my dad, it was a bit too exotic for his Midwestern palette.

Whenever I make sinigang it always reminds me of my mother, who brought this dish with her from the Philippines. She taught me how to make it when I was very young, and to this day it remains one of my go-to comfort meals. I hope to one day  pass it on to my children.

Obviously so they can involuntarily think of me whenever they have it.

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The great thing about sinigang is its versatility. You can make it with any number of vegetables and different types of meat. My favorite is a variety called sinigang na baka, meaning it’s made with beef. It’s also great because it’s a relatively healthy dish, packing plenty of veggies into your meal.

Ingredients

I should warn you, I don’t really measure things out, so just add as much as you think will fit in your slow cooker or soup pot or serve the number of people actually willing to try this out.

Meat

I like to use beef short ribs, but I’ve used stew beef as well or even both! But I find ribs give the broth the most flavor. For one regular size crock pot (meaning not tiny, but not one of those huge ones) I got about 1.5 lbs of short ribs.

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Veggies

My favorite part of sinigang. For this batch I used what I had in my fridge, but there are so many possibilities for the vegetables you can use. Here I used one long thin pepper (to give it some kick!), pechay (baby bok choy), one large fresh tomato, 1/2 a large white onion, 3 garlic cloves, and I decided to throw some broccoli in last minute as well.

Also, in traditional Filipino recipes it is customary to include small taro roots, called “gabi” in Tagalog, also called eddo roots in the grocery store. In the interest of keeping this as low carb as possible I omitted the gabi, but if you don’t plan on eating it with rice it is delicious and little different.

Some of the vegetables you might want to include. I also like to include spinach, broccoli, and string beans.

Some of the vegetables you might want to include. I also like to include spinach, Chinese eggplant, broccoli and string beans.

Soup base and flavorings

Most Filipinos that I know (my mom included) really like to use beef bouillon cubes to flavor the dish. I have to admit it is reallllly good that way, but I’m watching my sodium intake so I used reduced sodium beef stock because I’m already using a packaged soup base. The soup base can be found in the Asian store, my favorite is Knorr brand but Mama Sita brand has a tamarind seasoning mix that’s also pretty good. I’ll update this when I figure out how to make the tamarind soup base from scratch. It’s my next project!

You can usually find Knorr Tamarind base in any Asian or international grocery store.

You can usually find Knorr Tamarind base in any Asian or international grocery store.

Also, since the pepper I chose wasn’t spicy enough for me I added some red pepper flakes. Really spicy and really sour are my favorite ways to serve this dish!

Note: By using more veggies, substituting vegetable broth for the beef broth, and substituting lemon juice for the tamarind base you can also make it vegetarian-friendly. FYI the tamarind base by Knorr contains shrimp powder, so it’s not vegetarian. It’ll taste a little different but I’ve tried it myself and it’s pretty good!

Directions

Dice your half-onion, don’t be too worried about making everything pretty, this isn’t a pretty dish.

Also dice up your garlic cloves nice and tiny.

Brown your ribs on the stove in a little olive oil. I didn’t do it this particular time, but you can throw your onions and garlic in with your ribs while they brown to give the meat a bit more flavor.

Put them in your crock pot, cover with as much of the tamarind base packet as you like. I used 1/3 of the packet at this point because it’s easier to add more than try to take it out!

Add your onions, garlic, and long skinny pepper. If you like things really spicy you can go ahead and add your red pepper flakes now since the longer they’re in there the more spicy your soup gets. If you decide you want to use the taro root, add it now. It needs to be cooked a long time so it gets soft enough to be edible.

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Add 2 cups of the beef broth, then add enough water to cover the meat.

Cover your crock pot and set on low for ~4 hours. I tried doing it for 6 hours once but the meat ended up so tough I had cut the time down. My pot might just run hotter than some of the others.

When you have about 30 minutes left go ahead and cut your tomato into big chunks and add to the pot. At this point make sure to taste your broth and add additional salt, tamarind seasoning, or beef broth if it’s a little bland. You could even sneak a little beef bouillon in if you like, I won’t tell anyone.

When you have about 20 minutes left add your baby bok choy, string beans, broccoli or other veggies. If you are using spinach I suggest adding it last around the 10 minute mark so it doesn’t disintegrate.

Voila! You’ve made yourself a Filipino dinner. For our Paleo and grain-free friends if you add enough veggies you don’t need to eat this with rice. Since being diagnosed with diabetes I limit my rice intake so I frequently enjoy this dish without the rice.

For those of you who want to try this the traditional way serve with -my favorite- Jasmine white rice. You could even try this with brown rice, which happens to be my boyfriend’s favorite rice.

What’s your favorite dish from your childhood?