Chef’s Corner: Here’s to you!

It’s a new year, which means a new chapter. An opportune time to reflect, and project, what we want different for ourselves in the upcoming year. I had an epiphany this past summer while sitting at the beach and had clarity on what needed to change for me. Being a wife, mother and business owner, I’d forgotten to take care of myself, and I realized that to nurture everyone around me fully, I had first to do the same for me. I started walking and watching my calorie intake and I lost twenty pounds. I not only feel healthier physically, I feel amazing emotionally and elevated spiritually.

So one of the things I started to do is make these tasty protein rice bowls that left me feeling full and satisfied. Using whole grains instead of refined grains are much healthier and contain higher amounts of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, antioxidants, phytochemicals and fiber, which will help you feel fuller longer which helps with maintaining your weight. You can also add an egg or avocado to increase the protein and fiber to your meal.

A great way to kick off the New Year is by adding these power bowls to your menu. Artist Bryan Nash Gill, z”l, said, “Strict concentration on the making, the process, is more important than the result.” Enjoy this New Year by paying more attention to yourself; enjoy the process of refining the best you can be.

Thai Basil Beef and Lemongrass Rice Bowl

Lemongrass Rice ingredients:
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup water
1 cup uncooked jasmine rice
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup fresh lemongrass, chopped
1-2 tablespoons roasted peanuts, chopped (if desired)

Thai Basil Beef ingredients:
2 large carrots, cut into matchsticks
4 mini bell peppers, sliced
1 red Thai pepper, sliced (if too spicy, substitute another mini bell pepper)
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 teaspoon honey
juice of 1 lime, plus lime wedges for serving
2 tablespoons sesame oil
4 cloves garlic, minced or grated
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
1 pound lean ground beef (or ground turkey or chicken)
pinch of black pepper
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce, divided
1/3 cup sweet Thai chili sauce
2 cups fresh basil leaves, sliced or chopped, divided, plus extra for garnish
Toasted sesame seeds plus chopped roasted peanuts,
for garnish


To make the rice, add the coconut milk and water to a medium size pot. Bring to a low boil and then add the rice, sesame oil and lemongrass. Stir to combine, then place the lid on the pot and turn the heat down to the lowest setting possible. Allow the rice to cook ten minutes on low and then turn the heat off completely and let the rice sit on the stove, covered for another 15-20 minutes. After 15-20 minutes remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork and stir in 1-2 tablespoons chopped peanuts (if desired).

While the rice is cooking, in a medium bowl, combine the carrots, mini bell peppers, Thai red pepper (or another mini bell pepper), green onions, honey, lime juice and 2 tablespoons soy sauce. Toss well and set aside.

Heat a large wok or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and when the oil is hot, add the garlic and ginger. Cook for 15-30 seconds, then add the beef. Season the beef with black pepper and brown all over, breaking it up as it cooks, about 5 minutes.

Once the beef is browned, add 1/3 cup soy sauce, 1/3 cup sweet Thai chili sauce and 1 cup of fresh basil. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until the sauce coats the beef, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining 1 cup fresh basil.

Divide the rice evenly among four bowls, top with equal amounts of beef. Add the carrot and pepper mixture on top of the beef. Garnish with chopped peanuts, fresh basil and toasted sesame seeds.
Photo by Matthew Strauss

Lucia Schnitzer and her husband, Ken, own Pomelo (a full-service restaurant), Luci’s at The Orchard and Splurge (a candy and ice cream shop), all at The Orchard Phx, 7100 N 12th Street, Phoenix. They also own Luci’s Healthy Marketplace, 1590 E Bethany Home Road, Phoenix, which they opened in 2009 in Lucia’s honor after her successful battle with breast cancer.

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