May the Fourth be Delicious

I really value my holidays, and none is more special and fun than May 4th when the phrase on everyone’s lips is:

May the fourth be with you!

May fourth is Star Wars Day, and I’ve devised three fun snack recipes to help you celebrate whilst maintaining a healthy, balanced diet. I’m sure Yoda mentioned something about the fork being strong but for these recipes you’ll just need your fingers and a sense of adventure!

These recipes are great to prepare with kids and there’s also scope for forming the dishes into Star Wars shapes so you can get creative and enjoy cooking together.

If I can suggest a soundtrack while you’re cooking, it has to be Cantina Band by John Williams (on repeat). The music from the classic scene when the young Luke Skywalker first meets Han Solo provides a party atmosphere with a dark undertone!

Stormtrooper Sushi

Stormtroopers never go off to battle without preparing their bodies with their favourite snack – sushi. They may seem like robotic war mongering machines on the outside but they still need to look after themselves on the inside and vegetable sushi is the low fat, vegan, dairy and gluten free option that keeps them in peak condition for battling the forces of good in the universe.

Nori is a nutrient powerhouse

Sushi is traditionally wrapped in dry seaweed sheets made from Nori. Not only does Nori lend a sweet, nutty flavour to your sushi, it is also packed full of beneficial vitamins and minerals that will give you a nutrient boost without you even realising.

Nori is also high in iodine which supports thyroid function, the gland responsible for maintaining a healthy weight as well as stabilising moods and tiredness. It is high in protein and fiber but contains almost no fat. It is rich in minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese and vitamins A, B (1, 2, 3, 6 and 12), C, and E making it a cheaper alternative to a multivitamin tablet.

Seaweed, as you might expect, is also high in sodium, and Nori is no exception. This means it is a great natural alternative to salt, so less processed salt needs to be added to the food.

Wasabi burns away your inflammation

Wasabi is not only a delicious and spicy accompaniment to sushi, it is fantastic at eliminating inflammation in sores, muscles and joints. It is also a powerful anti-microbial; the strong vapors that can get up your nose are also harmful to bacteria, reducing the risk of food poisoning. This is especially useful if you are eating sushi made with raw fish!

Makes 20 rolls
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

For the rice

3 cups short grain brown rice
1/2 cup rice vinegar
2 tbsp mirin
1 tsp salt

It is important to wash as much of the starch out of the rice as possible before you start to cook it. You want the rice to bind together in the roll, but leaving too much starch inside will result in gloopy rice that will ruin the texture and look of your sushi roll.

1. Place the rice in a bowl and fill with cold water. The water will turn cloudy, this is the starch seeping out of the rice. Agitate the grains to help the extraction and then drain the rice through a sieve. Repeat this process until the water is running clear over the sieved rice. This may take up to four or five repetitions but is well worth the effort!

2. Place the washed rice in a saucepan with a little more water than rice, so use 3 and a half cups of water for your 3 cups of rice. Bring the water to the boil making sure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. It is best to use a wooden spoon to stir it as it won’t react like a metal spoon might. Stir occasionally just to make sure it doesn’t stick until the water comes to a boil, then turn the heat down, cover the pan, and let it simmer for around 10 minutes. The rice is done when the water has been soaked up and the rice is just cooked, soft but retaining the structure of its individual grains.

This is not the easiest thing to get perfect and takes practice, but following these instructions carefully will help to ensure the best results and make your life a lot easier when rolling the sushi.

3. When the rice is cooked, warm the vinegar gently with the mirin and salt, until it dissolves. Fold this liquid gently through the rice with the wooden spoon, taking care not to break up the grains.

4. The rice should be cooled as quickly as possible in the open air. Spread the rice into a thin layer on a baking sheet and allow it to cool in a spot with good air flow. Next to an open window will work, but it shouldn’t be in direct sunlight. You can use a fan to speed this process up but don’t put it in the fridge as this will cool the rice unevenly.

Once the rice is cooked and cooled, you can begin the fun part; slicing your vegetables and making the rolls. A bamboo sushi rolling mat will make the process a lot easier. They can be picked up from Asian supermarkets for a couple of dollars, along with the seaweed, mirin, soy sauce and wasabi.

Slicing the vegetables is all about creating texture and beauty to your sushi rolls. Try forming the rolls into the shapes of your favorite Star Wars characters!

For the rolls

10 sheets Nori (dried seaweed)
1 cucumber
1 bunch of scallions
1 punnet baby corn
1 plum tomato
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tube wasabi paste

Cut the cucumber in half lengthways and carefully scoop out the watery core with a teaspoon. Then slice the flesh into long thin strips about 1/4 inch thick. Do the same with the tomato.

Cut the scallions to the right length for your nori sheets, they can go in whole.

Slice the baby corn into quarters lengthwise, this adds a nice crunch and a bit of sweetness.

Lay the Nori sheet shiny side down on your bamboo mat. With wet hands, spread the rice in a thin layer, only one or two grains deep, over all but an inch at the far side of the sheet. Lay your sliced vegetables near the other end, on top of the rice.

5. Carefully roll up the Nori, keeping it tight all the way across. Use the mat to ensure it is evenly tight along the roll. Wet the exposed end of the Nori to seal the roll.

6. Wet your knife and slice carefully across the sushi roll to create the individual rolls.

7. Serve the sushi with wasabi and soy sauce on the side to dip into. Try making fun storm trooper shapes with your sushi rolls for Star Wars Day!

A Taco the Clones

Nothing says Happy Star Wars Day like a clone army of tacos, marching towards their delicious demise. These are packed with goodness and have an unbeatable gluten-free crunch from homemade wheat-free taco shells.

Inside is crunchy lettuce, creamy guacamole, without all the bad stuff, and nutritious grilled fish cooked in a Mexican rub to spice things up. These tacos are surprisingly fun and easy to make and make a delicious and guilt-free snack for your May the Fourth celebrations!

Avocados aren’t so bad after all.

One of the most beneficial ingredients here is the avocados. They are sometimes seen as an unhealthy vegetable due to their high fat content, but it is far better to eat natural fat from an avocado than processed fat like margarine. We all need some fat in our diets (especially to keep joints nicely oiled) and the fat in avocados is the “good” kind, monounsaturated fat, which helps to lower bad cholesterol.

Plus, they are packed full of other nutrients like potassium, which helps control blood pressure, lutein, which is good for your eyes (particularly important for a young Jedi knight) and B, C and E vitamins. Not to mention, they are delicious with a squeeze of lime and add a creamy texture to contrast with the crispy taco shells. This means there’s no need to add sour cream to moisten everything up, reducing the overall fat content of the tacos.

I’ve chosen mackerel because it is an oily fish high in omega 3 fatty acids and have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. There are also studies supporting the claim that eating oily fish can help reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, making it the perfect tasty and nutritious ingredient for these taco clone warriors.

Makes 20 mini tacos
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes

For the tacos:

6 gluten-free tortillas
2 avocados
1 lime
1 small red onion
1 red chilli
2 baby gem lettuce
1/2 cucumber
1 punnet baby plum tomatoes
1 bunch cilantro
2 fillets of mackerel

For the spice mix:

1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp chilli powder (optional)
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp black Pepper
1/2 crushed vegetable bullion cube
Salt to taste

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

2. For the taco shells, cut the tortillas into rounds using a cutter (or a cup of the right size). Place them inside a damp tea towel in the oven for a couple of minutes to make them pliable, then drape them over the bars of the oven grill to create the characteristic taco shell shape.

3. Scoop out the flesh from your avocados and mash it in a bowl with the chopped chilli and red onion, and juice from the lime. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Chop the lettuce, cucumber and tomato and dress with any remaining lime juice and salt and pepper.

5. Mix the spices in a bowl and coat the fish with them, reserving a few pinches. This can be done in advance or just before cooking. Cook the fish in a hot pan in some olive oil, until it is just firm and cooked through. It should flake off into the tacos.

6. Assemble your clone army of tacos, layering up avocado with the salad and fish. Sprinkle some cilantro leaves and a little extra spice mix on top

Death Star Energy Balls

These Death Star energy balls are super easy to make and provide a great energy boost for a Jedi on the go. Nothing demonstrates your power to harness the light side of the force as much as taking a Death Star and crushing it between your jaws!

These protein packed snacks are perfect for a pre or post exercise snack, when you need a quick energy boost. They are made from crushed nuts and sour cherries, naturally sweetened with dried figs. Coconut oil binds everything together and is complemented by desiccated coconut on the outside. Cocoa powder balances the sweetness and provides the Death Star look.

Coconut oil is one type of fat that you shouldn’t feel bad about consuming. Instead of being stored, it is used up straight away which makes it perfect for someone who exercises and needs that injection of energy. Lauric acid in the naturally occurring oil reduces inflammation in the joints of sufferers making it the perfect ingredient for a nutrient packed energy ball.

Sour cherries have been found to have a higher anti-oxidant content per serving than well-known anti-oxidants like red wine and chocolate. Sour cherries are packed with anhtocyanins which are responsible for the rich, enticing color in many fruits and berries. These anthocyanins have powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties so sour cherries not only provide great color and sour flavor to the energy balls, they pack a punch in terms of their health benefits too.

Some nuts like walnuts and cashews have specific health benefits and that, along with their satisfying crunch is why they are included in the death star energy balls. Walnuts specifically have been shown to help with rheumatoid arthritis, by reducing the inflammation in the joints which causes pain and stiffness.

Makes 20 balls
Prep time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

1/2 cup cashew nuts
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup sour cherries
2 cups dried figs
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1 tbsp cocoa powder

Blitz all the ingredients apart from the desiccated coconut and cocoa powder in a food processor until combined into a dough with some chunky pieces left for texture.

Mix together the desiccated coconut and cocoa powder in a bowl.

Roll the mixture into balls and toss in the coconut and cocoa mix to cover evenly.

Then make an imprint in one side with your thumb to create the Death Star look!

If you want to know what foods will help you shape up and shed inches while providing natural cure to illnesses, then click here to check out the Best Foods That Rapidly Slim & Heal In 7 Days program.

Take care!

Rick Kaselj, MS

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