Saturday, October 25, 2014

Spiced to Health: Balinese Yellow Sauce

It’s mid October, and almost a month since Dane and I returned from our honeymoon in Bali. When I say to myself it’s only been a month, it doesn’t seem that long ago. But when I remember those wonderful sunny days, lounging by the poolside watching Dane surf the ocean waves, it seems like ages ago. How I miss my daily papaya smoothies, the Balinese people, and the time to R.E..L...A....X! Now I just have to remain thankful to have had those wonderful beautiful days with my best friend at my side!

Three days after Dane and I arrived back from our travels, I changed gears from newly wed, sun-kissed Selva to full time Bastyr Dietetic Intern.  Although I love every minute of my intern days, I also miss my peaceful, idyllic, active summer days. With the rain pouring, and no end in sight, the days are now grey, cold, and damp, perfect actually for all the intern activities and competencies that I need to fulfill.

However, every once in awhile, when I light my traditional morning incense (just like the Balinese), I crave the sunshine, the fruit, and the flavorful food that we ate there during our time. Finally, starved of my delicious Balian memories, I decided to make Base Gede, the Balinese yellow sauce that is the start to almost every dish. Without Base Gede, you cannot make traditional Balinese dishes such as Gado Gado, or Nasi Campur.

Not only is this sauce amazingly delicious, and very important in the Balinese cuisine, it is a medicinal superhouse. Stocked full with multiple types of fresh ginger, turmeric, garlic, peppers, and lemongrass, it is bursting with powerful antioxidants that have been touted with many healing properties. I don’t want to beat the bush by talking about turmeric and ginger again, as I just mentioned them in my last post called Balian Papaya Elixir Smoothie, but I will mention a few things about garlic, since the recipe calls for 15 cloves!

Garlic originates from Middle Asia, but has become a culinary and medicinal staple in many cultures around the world. From Europe to Asia, and Africa to the Americas, garlic is used in many traditional foods. The bioactive sulfur compound Alliin and the enzyme Alliinase are most studied when it comes to the healing properties of garlic.  When cut or smashed alliinase becomes activated, changing alliin to Allicin, the active component of garlic. 

Allicin has been touted with strong antibiotic and antiviral properties, making it a popular cold and flu remedy in many cultures.  Although most research studies have used garlic extracts, or powder, rather than fresh whole garlic, it has been shown to have a wide variety of beneficial effects. In a 2009 meta-analysis, a study of multiple studies, found that garlic significantly reduced total cholesterol and triglycerides, however it did not significantly change the LDL to HDL ratio (1). Furthermore, in laboratory studies, garlic has been shown to slow or inhibit the growth of various cancer cells (2).

However, to get the most benefits, after you chop, smash, or press your garlic, let it rest for a minute to allow the enzyme alliinase to change alliin to active allicin. Immediate cooking of the garlic or mixing it with acid, such as lemon juice, deactivates the enzyme. Therefore, in order to increase the health promoting effects of garlic, wait a minute to cook with it, but not too long, as allicin only stays intact for about 2-16 hours at room temperature (3). Fresh pressed, smashed, or minced garlic is best! Now there is more reason to be liberal with fresh garlic, especially if you are staying in for dinner!

Like I said before, this yellow sauce is only the base for Balinese cooking. In order to create the popular Gado Gado or Nasi Campur, you will need a few more ingredients. Although it may seem that at this moment I am leaving you hanging with only a sauce, please be creative! Add it into your own sautés, soups, or marinades! A little goes a long way. And when I post another Balinese recipe that requires this sauce, you will be ready to jump straight on board!

P.S. You can find all the ingredients at your local Asian grocery store. In the Seattle area, I like to go to Uwajimaya.

Stay Happy and Healthy!

Base Gede (Balinese Yellow Sauce) 
Adapted from Paon Bali Cooking Class
Makes 1 ½ cups

3 shallots
15 cloves garlic (about 1 whole bulb)
3-4 inch long galangal root
3-4 inch ginger root
2 thumb size pieces of turmeric
4 whole macadamia nuts (or 8 halves)
2 red hot Thai chilies (small)
3 red chilies (medium)
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg powder
2 teaspoons shrimp paste
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon white peppercorns (or use more black)
2 whole cloves
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
1 stalk of lemongrass, pounded and tied in a knot
2 bay leaves


Rinse all ingredients except the seeds and powders. Coarsely chop the shallots, garlic, galangal root, ginger, turmeric, and macadamia nuts. Place into a food processor. Slice and remove the seeds from the chilies and mince. Add to the food processor. Add the nutmeg powder and the shrimp paste and process all the ingredients.

With a mortar and pestle, or in a clean coffee grinder, grind your coriander seeds, peppercorns, and cloves until fine. Add to the food processor and process until everything forms a fine paste.

In a medium sauce pan heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and add the paste and coconut sugar. Mix together. Add the lemongrass and bay leaves, and a generous pinch of sea salt and sauté for 7 minutes on low heat. Continue to stir to make sure it doesn't burn. Finally, remove the bay leaves and the lemongrass.

Pour into a glass container and store in the refrigerator for two weeks. You can also freeze the sauce in an ice cube tray. Use in your favorite Balinese recipe or in any stir-fry, soup, or marinade that you are making at home.

Note: Only about 1-2 tablespoons is normally used in a recipe because the sauce is very aromatic. 


1. Reinhart KM1, Talati R, White CM, Coleman CI. The impact of garlic on lipid parameters: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutr Res Rev. 2009 Jun;22(1):39-48.
2. American Institute for Cancer Research. Foods that Fight Cancer Accessed October 23, 2014. 
3. Worlds Healthiest Foods. Garlic. Accessed October 23, 2014. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Balian Papaya Elixir Smoothie

Hello from Bali! Dane and I are now on our honeymoon in the sunny, ever warm, beautiful Indonesia. I still cant believe the whirlwind of emotions, memories, and people, that have surrounded me and eventually led me to this tranquil and vibrant island. The Balinese are such friendly people, smiling and waving, with eyes full of happiness. To my surprise they are much more open than the fellow tourists we sit next to at the  beach or at the local restaurant. Each Balinese connection brings me inner happiness.

Along with the friendly people, and beautiful surroundings, comes the sweet nectar of the tropics-the vibrant tropical fruits, papaya, mangosteen, and passion fruit. Dane and I savor every bite, knowing that too soon we will have to return to our homegrown Washington apples. Not that these aren’t delicious, they are just not as exciting. 

You would think from the name of my blog, that perhaps you would find more papaya recipes tucked away in the recipe archive. Sadly, it is not often that I get to devour my favorite fruit as it is expensive and rare in the Pacific Northwest. However, lucky for me the papaya is in abundance! Now, I get to treat Dane and myself to daily papaya smoothies, salads, and breakfast bowls. Oh papaya, how I love the!

Papaya is vibrant in color and buttery in texture. The flavor is lightly sweet with musky undertones that come alive with a spritze of lime. Besides being rich in antioxidants beta-carotene, the pigment that gives papaya a deep red-orange color, and vitamin C, it is unique in the fact that it contains papain and chymopapain- enzymes that digest proteins. These enzymes help ease digestive upset, reduce inflammation, and may support the healing of sport injuries (1). Often, the elderly or those suffering from digestive distress, cannot digest dietary proteins easily due to a lack of enzyme production or a decrease HCL secretion in the stomach. Therefore, papaya can offer digestive relief, aiding in protein breakdown. Papaya is also often used in Bali in natural spas, acting as a moisturizer in baths, or used as part of a facial. In addition papaya, just like pineapple, can act like a meat tenderizer for your next summer BBQ. 

Today, I use papaya along with anti-inflammatory roots, ginger and turmeric. Once again, here in Bali, fresh turmeric and ginger root are in abundance and very cheap. Back home, they can be a bit more pricey, especially turmeric. However, along with fresh papaya, these roots can make a smoothie into a health elixir. Ginger has been known to act as a carminative, easing digestive upset, nausea, and relieving gas. The bioactive compounds found in ginger, aid in the absorption and transport of the nutrients found in foods, especially that of oils and proteins which take longer to digest (2). Both ginger and turmeric have powerful anti-inflammatory properties, reducing pain, swelling, and inflammation (2). Turmeric, also is known as a powerful antimicrobial and anticancer agent. In traditional medicinal practices, turmeric has been used to prevent infection of open wounds, and has been used topically for acne and skin rashes. Curcumin, the bioactive found in turmeric, has also proven to be a powerful antioxidant, quenching free radicals, and preventing their consequential damage to cell membranes (2). Simply put, these two roots, offer an immune boosting punch. 

With that being said, here is my delicious Balian Papaya Elixir Smoothie. This one is for the books. Trust me. If you can get your hands on some fresh papaya, ginger and turmeric, make this. And if you like things a bit more potent (and spicy) add more ginger and turmeric to taste. BE CAREFUL WHEN CUTTING FRESH TURMERIC BECAUSE IT STAINS (as you can see my nails are a bit yellow)!!

PS. I used sweetened soy milk because that is all they had at the local market. If you prefer unsweetened soy milk, add 2 teaspoons of you sweetener of choice (honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, etc). Just take note that the flavor profile may be different depending on the sweetener you use. 

Balian Papaya Elixir Smoothie
Makes 2 large glasses

Juice of 3 small limes 
Juice of 1 large orange
~ 1 1/2  inches of turmeric root, peeled and minced
~ 1 1/2  inches of ginger root, peeled and minced
2-3 cups peeled and cubed papaya
1 cup sweetened soy milk
Pinch of sea salt
Handful ice cubes


Add all the ingredients, except the ice cubes, into a high speed blender. Blend until smooth. Add the ice cubes and once again blend until smooth. Share and enjoy!



1. WHFoods. Papaya. Access September 13, 2014.
Sridhara, L. Ginger and Turmeric for Overall Well Being. Well Being Journal. 2014;23(5):21-24.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Dessert for Two: A Late Summer Cobbler

Life has been über busy! Dane and I are getting married next Saturday, September 6th and our to-do lists never seem to end. My mental list and my written list always have different things on them, and for some reason all my new ideas come to me either at night or while I am running, discouraging me from writing my thoughts down.  My brain is multi-tasking to the max. But in the end it will be fun! Saturday the 6th cannot come soon enough, because then I will be able to let go, relax, and celebrate my new married life with Dane. After seven years we finally did it, and I am proud to say I am marrying my best friend-one who loves me exactly the way I am, with my faults as well as my benefits.

With that being said, I am sorry I haven’t posted recently, life just sort of got in the way. I do however have wonderful, tasty, versatile recipe for you. A recipe to treat you and your loved one. You can use berries or peaches, or mix them both together. I just picked the berries in my backyard, and since I didn’t have enough, I added in a ripe peach to the mix. Whatever floats your boat!

The cobbler is made of fiber rich oats, almond flour, and Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour. I like this brand the best because it is made out of beans, adding in extra plant protein and fiber to the dessert. You could also use another gluten-free flour mix, however, most often they are void in fiber or protein, due to large amounts of refined rice, tapioca, and potato starches. In addition, because I generally like to use sweeteners other than cane sugar, I used maple syrup for the fruit and coconut sugar for the dough. These sweeteners offer both more minerals than refined cane sugar, including zinc, magnesium, and potassium, and they have a lower glycemic index, indicating they raise blood sugar slower than does cane sugar. However, although they are better options than cane sugar, they still should be used in moderation, just as I did in this recipe. 

Because the fruit and the dough are only lightly sweetened, it can be both a dessert or a breakfast. For dessert top the baked cobbler with a spoonful of vanilla ice cream. For breakfast top the cobbler with a creamy full fat Greek yogurt. Either way, it is delicious! Nobody will notice that it is a healthy alternative to your traditional berry cobbler. 

This recipe can be baked in either single serve ceramic or glass dishes, or baked as a whole dessert in one single large casserole dish. It can also easily be doubled if you are serving a crowd. Because I enjoy to bake, and do not want a lot of dessert hanging around, I decided to make a recipe with just enough for me to have one, and Dane to have two. One of the many ways I am sure I won over Dane’s heart.

So, in nine days, I will be married, and shortly thereafter on my way to Bali! I hope I will be able to squeeze in another post before then. If not, perhaps when I am lying on the beach in the sun, watching Dane surf the waves, as I eat fresh papaya tossed in lime.....I can't wait!

By the way....I was asked to be a guest chef for Angela Pifer at Clean and Lean Revolution. Check out my cooking videos for Happy Belly Porridge, Creamy Avocado Dip, and a new recipe Rosemary Scented Warmed Skillet Salad with Tofu and Quinoa. Perhaps you will find some cooking inspiration!

Mixed Fruit Cobbler
Makes Two Large Servings or Three small servings

1/8 cup Bob’s All Purpose Gluten-Free Flour
1/8 cup almond flour
¼ cup rolled oats (gluten-free)
1 tablespoon coconut sugar or organic sugar
½ teaspoon double-acting baking powder
2 pinches sea salt
1 tablespoon chilled organic butter, unsalted
1/8 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
½ teaspoon vanilla

Juice and zest of ½ lemon
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon organic maple syrup
Pinch sea salt
2 cups fresh fruit (I used mixed berries and a peach)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a food processor, add the first six dough ingredients, and pulse until the rolled oats are broken down a bit. Then add the butter, yogurt, and vanilla and pulse until combined. Gather the dough, and split into halves or thirds (depending on how many you want to make). Roll each into a ball and flatten into a disc that fits inside a ramekin. Allow a little room along the edges for the biscuit to rise. Set aside.

Mix together the lemon juice, zest, cornstarch, maple syrup, and sea salt until the cornstarch is dissolved. Toss in the fruit and mix. Evenly spoon the fruit and the sauce into two ramekins. Top each ramekin with biscuit dough.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the biscuit is golden brown and toothpick comes out clean.

Top with vanilla ice cream or additional whole milk Greek yogurt.
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