With Resolution

My landlord brought us two MASSIVE bunches of collards, so for dinner last night I made black rice, sauteed collards, and red skinned mashed potatoes. It was simple and nourishing, which has been my main prerequisite for meals this past month, and will probably be dinner for the next two or three nights. Maybe a couple of lunches too.

In the time I have not been posting I have been reading a lot of other blogs. I am still not certain that I have figured out exactly how to best fuel my body, and whenever I feel like this I find myself perusing raw, vegan, paleo, food-combining and scd blogs side-by-side and I struggle to make sense of it. And I haven’t yet.

I was actually pretty solid to my body this holiday season, with the exception of a couple of (potentially yeasty) glasses of wine. I took time to do yoga and pilates and go on walks. As suggested by those ascribing to the food-combining method of eating I have been consuming the majority of my fresh fruit separate from my meals (you can read the reasoning on that here). The problem is I have also been under a fair amount of stress, a little under the weather, and (a lot) sad. And these things all effect my stomach and general feeling of wellbeing just as the foods I eat do.

So while I was going to make some food and blogging resolutions, I offer up instead my commitments to myself in the spirit of self-care.

  1. Make time and space for rest- This includes walking, yoga (Joshua got me a month pass to Bikram for Christmas), somewhat regularly scheduled massages (also a Christmas present), and napping. I also want to focus on meditating and bio-feedback, two interests I have held but not pursued deeply before. 
  2. Share more food- Whether this looks like hosting potlucks, taking meals to sick friends, or baking cookies for a neighbor doesn’t matter. All of the above would be great. I love sharing food, and I want to make it a priority. Build community.
  3. Try something new once a month- Even when life is at its busiest there is time for some exploration in the kitchen. It’s the spice of life. And make these meals important, cloth napkins and place settings to boot. Celebrate new things.
  4. Make things outside of the kitchen- Craft! Just do it. And do it with other people. Build community.
  5. Make my own probiotic foods- I am excited about this project, I just need to find the space and time to get it started. I think my body will really thank me for it.
  6. Journal- Daily. Or at least semi-daily.
  7. Work on a farm- We’ve talked about joining WWOOF and farming somewhere overseas for awhile. Which would be great! In the meantime I want to get my hands in the dirt here and now. Come spring, expect to see me at Peacehaven Farm regularly. What a beautiful space, and such beautiful people. And I find working in a garden to be very relaxing.

So there is my list. What is on yours?

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A Lot Like Christmas

Honestly? I haven’t been much of a foodie these last few weeks. I’ve been living on vega protein shakes, spaghetti squash, and salad.

What I HAVE been is a crafting fiend. December 1 found me with Christmas spirit, which is fairly remarkable; just ask my poor Christmas-loving husband. So I directed my energies toward the decorating of our cozy home (see the exhibitions below).

I also decided that the majority of my gifts this year are going to be homemade. Expect a post soon on homemade lip balm, vanilla extract, and citrus ornaments. Also on my to-do list is a homemade dairy free eggnog, and I have not forgotten about the spiced pumpkin creme recipe.

In the meantime, someone inspire me! What is your favorite gf/vegetarian recipe for the season?

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Potluck Fair: Grain-Free Sweet Potato Bread

I went to a potluck Sunday. I love meals shared, but potlucks have become a bit of a tricky business. Most of the trickiness revolves around the following two questions:

  1. Do you stalk down the creator of each dish and politely demand an ingredients list? Do you take a risk? There have been several potlucks where the only dish I have eaten is the one I have also made.
  2. Will my gluten-free dish (especially if it’s a baked one) be embraced or shunned? Gluten-free is often associated with texture differences, flavor differences, etc. Generally I’m not too worried about this one, honestly. If they don’t eat it, more for me!

But this particular group of potluckers is great. Probably close to 1/2 of us have food allergies, or are married to someone with food allergies, and so the conversation is open and enthusiastic. Things that dishes “lack” are broadcasted with pride. And no one minds offering an ingredient list.

And this bread, well it went over well with the whole crowd, gluten-free and not. Success!


Grain-Free Sweet Potato Bread

I am trying to find a balance between nut butters/flours and coconut flour. Coconut flour on its own has a distinct texture that I don’t mind, but other people (husband included) seem to. Joshua’s reaction to this bread however, was to liken it to a poundcake in lightness and texture. Poor thing misses my pre-gluten-free poundcake.

Ingredients:

1/3 cup creamy almond butter
1/3 cup almond meal
1/3 cup coconut flour
1 cup cooked sweet potato, flesh removed from the peel
3 eggs
1/4 cup honey
1/4 tsp liquid stevia
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (alcohol free)
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 dash clove and nutmeg
1/4 scant teaspoon sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
coconut oil (for greasing)
1/2 cup cashew icing (recipe follows)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease a single loaf pan
  2. In a food processor, combine the first four ingredients until thoroughly incorporated.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and mix on low, using a spatula to scrape the bottom and edges as necessary. The batter should be consistent, but not overworked.
  4. Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top of the loaf is slightly firm to the touch (you could also use a toothpick).
  5. Allow to cool almost completely before icing.
  6. Dust with cinnamon and serve slightly warm.

To store, keep refrigerated in an airtight container. Warm gently before serving. If you are planning on reheating, I recommend not icing the whole loaf at once, but instead slice by slice.

Cashew Icing

Ingredients:

1/3 cup raw cashews, soaked at least 8 hours and drained
2 tbsp
1-2 tbsp agave or 1/8 tsp liquid stevia (to taste)
a couple drops vanilla and lemon extract (alcohol free)
water

Directions:

Blend all ingredients except for the water at a medium high setting. Slowly add water until desired consistency is reached. Blend for several minutes until the mixture turns from grainy to creamy. Chill for at least two hours to allow to set.

ENJOY on this rainy little day of ours.

Eating healthy and gluten-free on a budget

I had a friend message me a couple weeks back asking how I afforded to eat the way I eat. It’s a great question! For sure most products advertised as being gluten-free cost more than the products they imitate. And certainly organic gets expensive. But I believe that eating healthy (and gluten-free) is possible with any budget. Here are a few tips that have worked for me.

  1. Find a farmer’s market near you that is open at a time you can go, and get the majority of your produce from there. Eating seasonally and locally when it comes to produce can really help drive down the cost. Also, plan on putting a good chunk of your budget here… it is worth it. Stock up on dark leafy greens that will fill you up and give you lots of nutrients. Talk to the farmers at the market too. While not all of them can afford to be certified organic, many are still pesticide free. And it’s just nice to talk to them.
  2. Shop sales and coupons. I rarely go into a grocery store with a list. I find what is on sale that fits in my lifestyle and I focus on that. I also focus way more on purchasing nuts and nut butters with my budget than on pastas or other grains. Always be on the lookout for protein powder on sale if you are as obsessed with smoothies as I am. And stock up on cheap staples like beans, frozen fruit (when on sale), and frozen vegetables.
  3. Buy from the bulk department. especially with rice/quinoa/nuts (DON’T DO THIS IF YOU HAVE A SEVERE INTOLERANCE as cross-contamination is somewhat inevitable). And don’t forget POPCORN (perhaps the only reason I refuse to be completely grain-free).
  4. Purchase flours online (swanson and amazon are both great resources for this).
  5. Cook from scratch, and avoid prepackaged gluten-free products. It is a little more time consuming, but cheaper and almost always healthier. Stick with simple meals, or set aside an afternoon to cook a big dish of something you can freeze/store for the week. Curries are great for this.
  6. Make breakfast for dinner. This was a recommendation by karina allrich, aka the gluten free goddess, and I love it. You can get wonderful fresh local eggs from the farmer’s market for $3.50 or less a dozen. Breakfast is filling and delicious and, budget put aside, one of my favorite things to have for dinner.
  7. Choose to spend more on your grocery budget and cut something elsewhere. It is that important! We generally go out to eat less than once a week. We find a free show at a coffeeshop versus going to a ten dollar movie (supporting local AND saving money). Those little budget savers can make a huge difference in your grocery budget.

What are your strategies for staying on budget when it comes to food? I know there are many more creative solutions out there!

Also, something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently, how do you connect community and food?

 

A raw re-make: strawberry pretzel salad

I don’t remember how old I was when strawberry pretzel salad was introduced as a part of our thanksgiving menu. Not a dessert but a side, it was delicious, offering the perfect combination of sweet and salty. Ali and I, being the seat of our pants vegetarians that we were, turned this dish and mashed potatoes into our entrees. Seconds and thirds. Fourths even.

At some point I became aware of what I was eating, and my portions slimmed. And then last year, diagnosis and lifestyle change in hand, I ate strawberry-jello-two-cups-of-sugar-and-a-tub-of-cream-cheese “salad” no more.

This is a raw re-make of my previously beloved salad. Made with nuts (I know you’re surprised), and lightly sweetened with local honey and liquid stevia, this dessert is considerably more nutrient-dense (although probably similar in caloric content), and was inspired by the numerous raw cheesecake recipes out there (so many, so good).

 

Raw Strawberry “Pretzel” Squares

“Pretzel Crust” Layer Ingredients:

2 cups raw almonds, soaked overnight
3-4 coconut date rolls (date logs rolled in unsweetened coconut)
or
1/4 cup medjool dates, soaked for two hours
1/8 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
a good pinch of sea salt

“Cream Cheese” Layer Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 8 hours
1 lemon, freshly squeezed
3 tbsp raw (local) honey
20 drops of liquid stevia (start with 10 and add to taste)
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp coconut oil
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp water (as necessary to reach smooth consistency)

Strawberry Layer Ingredients:

2 cup frozen strawberries, thawed

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, pulse the crust ingredients until the almonds are rough chopped, and everything is evenly incorporated.
  2. Press the mixture into the bottom of an 8×8″ dish and set aside.
  3. In a vitamix or high speed blender, combine all ingredients for the cream layer. Blend on medium speed for several minutes, mixing/adding water as necessary, until smooth.
  4. Pour cream mixture on top of crust layer and spread evenly.
  5. Allow to set in the freezer for three hours.
  6. Blend thawed strawberries until pulp forms but some strawberry pieces remain. May be done in blender, food processor, or even with a fork.
  7. Spread strawberry layer on top, and chill for an additional three hours or overnight in the refrigerator or freezer. Serve firm, slightly frozen even.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Rainbow Chard Tarts (a brief photo essay)

find the recipe for this delicious recipe here although I used the original crust recipe from Elana’s Pantry just adding in the rosemary. I prefer eggs over oil almost always.

spiced pumpkin creme recipe to follow. it needs just a touch of tweaking, but gracious I think it’s going to be my favorite warm dessert.

 

 

Pumpkin Nut Butter Bars with Cashew Cream

Autumn. I love the bright flavors of Summer, I really do. The fruit salads and tomatoes and mint lemonade. But the moment October hits I restock my spice rack with cinnamon, clove, mulling spices, and curry, and I am giddy. I don’t know that any other season’s flavors are as season specific as Autumn’s. And I love every last one of them.

The search for this recipe was inspired by my attempts to replace more and more of the grains in my diet with nuts. My friend John made me an incredible raw cheesecake a month ago, which inspired me to seek out more raw/nut-based dessert recipes. My search led me to several wonderful blogs including one called the detoxinista, which is where this recipe originated. I am hooked, and will definitely be trying more of Megan’s variations on dessert. The recipe below is almost identical to this one on her blog, except that I swapped out the honey for liquid stevia, and used homemade cashew cream to top it off versus her maple glaze (too sweet for my taste buds).

 

Pumpkin Nut Butter Bars with Cashew Cream

These bars use almond butter instead of flour, producing an incredibly airy and cake-like product. They are delicious served slightly warm, with a dollop of chilled cashew cream and a dusting of cinnamon.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup organic pumpkin puree
1/2 cup creamy almond butter
1/2 tsp liquid stevia
3 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
2 eggs
2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp clove
1/8 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 heaping tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup cashew cream (see recipe below)

Directions:

  1. preheat oven to 350F
  2. grease a small pie pan or square baking dish with coconut oil
  3. combine all of the ingredients until a smooth cohesive batter is formed
  4. pour into your prepared dish and bake for 20-25 minutes
  5. allow to cool slightly. then serve warm with cinnamon and cashew cream

As with most of my baking projects, I am uncertain of the shelf-life, because the whole batch was gone within 24 hours! I suspect that these bars would keep best in the refrigerator, gently reheated when the time is right for a treat. Read on below the photo for a simple recipe for cashew cream.

Cashew Cream

Ingredients:

1/2 cup raw soaked cashews (soaked for at least 8 hours)
1-2 droppers of liquid stevia (really to taste)
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
water or unsweetened nut milk to desired texture (start with 1/4 cup)

Directions:

Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender for several minutes until the texture is whipped and creamy. Chill and serve as such.

Expect to see almond and other nut butters taking the place of flour in more of my recipes to come! And don’t judge me for putting this cashew cream on EVERYTHING. It’s been a little while since I’ve touched anything resembling whipped cream. Also, expect my next dessert post to be a raw one. What is your favorite raw dessert?

Enjoy!

 

A Kale Ginger Smoothie & A Green Almond Smoothie

I am so thankful for this gradual Autumn we have been given. A slow transition indoors, with dinner on the screened in porch still possible in sweaters. The days are getting shorter, but the sun and ground are still warm. And the colors. I have been going for long walks through our neighborhood just taking it in. Trying to breathe a little deeper. Allowing myself to be restored in the not quite crisp air and the bright hues. But then the high today is nearly eighty. Thank goodness I haven’t quite packed away my cutoffs. Thank goodness the warmth makes a post about smoothies slightly less out of season.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, when I get bored with food I tend to fall back on smoothies to nourish me through my days. Our trip was the first time in six months I didn’t have one if  not two smoothies in place of meals, and my body felt it. So once we hit Seattle, after three days on the road, my first my only request was to find a green smoothie. I wanted kale and nutrients and protein without having to chew a damn thing. I found just that at Alive Juice Bar in Shoreline, and a smoothie looking something like the recipe below.


Kale Ginger Smoothie

The small amount of orange in this recipe really amps up the citrus notes and pairs so nicely with the lemon and ginger. If you want less fruit/sugar, I would 1/2 the apple and 1/2 the carrot juice for a bit more green tea. I like a lot of ginger, and will sometimes put twice the amount below.

Ingredients:

1 large handful of kale (or two)
1/2 lemon (rind or no rind)
1/4 orange (no rind)
1 small apple, chopped into 1/4
1/2″ piece of fresh ginger (or to taste)
1/4 cup carrot juice (fresh pressed preferably)
green tea, unsweetened
ice
protein powder (Soy tastes great for some reason in this smoothie, but if you’re watching your soy intake a vegan plant blend I recommend is true vitality. If this is not meant to replace a meal, leave the protein out entirely.)

Directions:

Blend with greens at the bottom of the blender. Play with your ice to tea ratio until you find the taste and consistency right for you. My rule of thumb is generally to just cover the fruit with liquid, and then fill the serving cup 3/4 full with ice.

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The second smoothie I want to share is one that I drank nearly daily for lunch at Whole Foods when I was working in the coffee/smoothie shop. It is quite filling, even in the absence of protein powder, thanks to the almond butter and greens.

Green Almond Smoothie

Pack in the greens on this smoothie. There are so many other flavors going on that they really can get lost. Also, adjust the amount of almond butter accordingly if protein powder is added as the calorie content on this smoothie can skyrocket. If that is something you need to take into consideration.

I prefer the texture of frozen bananas in my smoothies. Break ripe peeled bananas into 1″ chunks and throw into the freezer to have on hand. I know they aren’t local or seasonal, but they are really irreplaceable as a smoothie base, imho.

Ingredients:

1 small ripe banana, frozen
frozen mixed berries
1 large handful kale (or two)
1 handful spinach
unsweetened almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1-2 tbsp almond butter
protein powder (optional. I recommend true vitality)

Directions:

Place fruit into serving cup, leaving about 1″ of space at the top. Pour almond milk over the fruit, still leaving some room at the top. Place the greens in the bottom of a blender and pour the cup of fruit and milk on top. Scoop in the almond butter and protein powder (if using) and blend well.

What is your favorite smoothie recipe?

Papaya Pok Pok

Have you ever stayed with someone you’ve never met before? With someone whom no one in your party has met before? Adventures in Portland.

Portland. The food and the public transportation. The Oregon coast and sunsets over the water. The care for plant and animal and health and sustainability. The rolling farms just outside of the city and the park running through the city. The homemade whiskey (okay maybe this was specific to our experience, but it was wonderful nonetheless). And did I mention the food?

Day 1 we ate at Pok Pok, created by caucasian Thai food Savant Andy Ricker.  Pok Pok offers a very unAmerican Thai, and I mean that in the best possible way. This was my first experience drinking water with pandanaus leaf, which gives the water a slightly toasted/vanilla/rice essence. I loved it. Based on the recommendation of our stranger of a host, I got the namesake salad, Papaya Pok Pok, with sticky rice.

The dish was spicier than I generally prefer, but delicious all the same. The sticky rice you use as a sort of mitten to pick up the food, and this and the spiciness resulted in me consuming quite a bit more rice than is typical. All things in moderation. My mantra. Except, of course, for the things you’re highly allergic to… here abstinence continues to rule.

I digress. Pok Pok was an excellent introduction into a couple days of allergen-friendly foodie heaven.

For a dinner dessert we went to Salt & Straw where I splurged on a scoop of dairy. Dairy is not on my allergen list, merely my I-know-my-body list. I repeat my mantra. Salt & Straw, like many restaurants in Portland, sources ingredients primarily from local farms, creameries, distilleries, and so on. I got the Aquabeet ice cream; a concoction of House Spirit Distillery’s Krogstad Aquavit liquor and sweet red beets (the primary sweetener for the recipe). What a light and delicious flavor.

Sadly I do not have a recipe for the Aquabeet ice cream. Maybe next Summer. But I did find this recipe for Pok Pok, which I modified slightly (of course).

Papaya Pok Pok

Ingredients:

1 medium green papaya, peeled and shredded
1 handful cheery tomatoes, halved
1 handful green beans, cut into 2″ pieces
1/4 cup agave
1 small jalapeno or other hot green pepper, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1-2 tbsp brigg’s liquid aminos
1/2 cup sticky rice

Directions:

  1. Soak the shredded papaya in cold water to crisp
  2. Prepare the sticky rice like this (or according to package directions)
  3. Using a mortar and pestle, slightly crush the green beans and cherry tomatoes. Set these aside in your serving dish
  4. Thoroughly combine the remaining ingredients, except for the papaya, to create the sauce
  5. Toss the sauce, papaya, and vegetables together to coat
  6. Serve immediately

NOTE: My sauce is significantly thinner due to using agave versus sugar. You could try using liquid stevia to reduce the liquid volume, or you could embrace it like we did, and use sticky rice to sop up the extra sauce.

The flavor of the salad will keep for a couple of days, however the crispness of the papaya will quickly disappear.

Enjoy!

ps I had a great time at Peacehaven Farm yesterday!

Gluten-free Falafel with Vegan Tahini Yogurt Dressing

Before I get to my post and recipe, I wanted to briefly plug an event happening tomorrow outside of Greensboro. Peacehaven Community Farm is having their Annual Harvest Festival, and it would great to see any local readers out supporting this great nonprofit. Peacehaven “is a sustainable farm located on 89 beautiful acres of organic gardens, rolling pastures, and lush woodlands that connects people with disabilities to their community”. The event is from 4-7pm tomorrow, October 21st. Visit their website or Facebook page to learn more about this event, and the work they do!

I will return to our trip in posts to come, but I wanted to break away to share a super simple recipe I made last week that I am super excited about. For a few reasons.

  1. I fried something (Laugh it up or shake your head, but this happens about once a year. Which is good… all things in moderation)
  2. I did not shop specifically for this recipe; the ingredients are simply things that are consistently in my cupboards and refrigerator.
  3. I LOVE falafel. Mooney’s Mediterranean Cafe in Winston-Salem makes my favorite falafel, but most local restaurants use gluten-filled flour in their recipes. I always get the sampler platter at Mooney’s with falafel, fried cauliflower, baba ghanouj, and fettoosh. It is one of my favorite date nights, on the sidewalk with lights in the trees.

This recipe was born out of almost having popcorn for dinner, only to glance at the chickpea flour and know. Know that I was destined for something better than popcorn. Even popcorn with coconut oil. This is what happens about four days out from me going to the market. I never plan out meals further than three days in advance.

Based on this recipe off of the back of the bag of flour, this falafel is simple and quick, with some herbs and such added in that I had on hand. The first time I made this I did not have any canned chickpeas, They were missed, and added into the second version of this recipe, but they weren’t missed so much as to stop me from eating half the batch I made in a matter of minutes.  If you don’t have the beans on hand, make it with all flour. I love simple solutions.

Gluten-free Falafel with Vegan Tahini Yogurt Dressing

Ingredients:

1/2 cup garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour
1/2 cup garbanzo beans, processed thoroughly with a blender or food processor
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 small shallow, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cumin, ground (fresh ground with a mortar and pestle if possible)
1/4 tsp coriander, ground
1/2 tsp garlic granules
1/4 tsp onion powder
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup hot water
2-4 tbsp 0live oil for frying

Directions:

  1. Mix all dry ingredients together until thoroughly combined
  2. Add the garbanzo beans, lemon juice, hot water, onion, shallot, and cilantro to the dry ingredients and stir until combined
  3. Allow mixture to rest for at least ten minutes (this could be a good time to assemble the dressing)
  4. Heat oil in a large saute pan or skillet on medium high heat
  5. Divide batter into twelve even balls and fry on each side until golden brown
  6. Blot off on paper towels and serve hot with vegan tahini yogurt dressing for dipping (see recipe below)


Vegan Tahini Yogurt Dressing

Ingredients:

3 tbsp unsweetened non dairy yogurt (I used soy)
2 tbsp tahini
1 fresh lemon, squeezed
salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste

Directions:

In a small bowl, thoroughly combine the first three ingredients. Season to taste and serve.
Like I said, simple but delicious. Enjoy!

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