Posts Tagged gluten free

Vanilla Mint Smoothie

I want to share my new favorite smoothie, because it’s so perfectly Summer I have to get it in before Labor Day! I usually save smoothies for snacks and this is perfect for a post-hike or after school snack, but with the heat this Summer, it also worked great for me for breakfast. There is a secret ingredient too, with kind of a fun twist…instead of using questionable methods to get the green color that you find in many mint products, spinach and fresh mint each serve the dual purpose of a great nutritional boost and a brilliant green color! If you don’t have fresh mint, which I do recommend, you can put a drop or two of peppermint or spearmint oil in the water before pouring it into the blender. I keep frozen bananas in the freezer at all times in case the need for a smoothie arises. Outside of smoothie season, they are good for banana bread too.

If you are worried about the ice watering the smoothie down, no need to fret. We are essentially making our nut or seed milk and smoothie in the same step, so the ice (plus the water) serves as the liquid for the seed milk and it keeps everything nice and cold which is a critical element to keeping the bananas from getting gummy. Plus, the higher the hydration to sweet ratio the better, in my opinion, especially in a cooling mint smoothie! If you do want it a little sweeter, you can add a pitted date with the hemp seeds for an extra potassium boost!

  • 3/4 cup cold water, plus a little more depending on the consistency you want
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup hemp seeds (I sometimes use raw soaked almonds instead)
  • 4-5 ice cubes
  • 1 cup spinach, or more if you like
  • 1/2-1 cup fresh mint (depending on your level of mintophelia)
  • 1 large frozen banana, cut into smaller chunks
  • teeny pinch of salt

Pour the vanilla in the water and set aside; if you are using mint oil instead of fresh mint, add it to the water too. Put the hemp seeds, ice cubes, spinach, mint, and salt in the blender, then pour the water over it. Putting the hemp seeds in first keeps them from flying around before they are blended and sticking to the side of the blender. Blend on low to get it going, then turn to high and blend until smooth, adding small amounts of cold water if needed to allow your smoothie to process. Blend it just as long as necessary, as you want to avoid heating up the smoothie in order to keep a perfect smooth, thick consistency. I like it thick enough to eat with a spoon, but it’s good anywhere between there and milkshake consistency. Sit down, take a deep breath, be grateful, and enjoy!

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Roasted Parsnip and Carrot Chips

I have always liked parsnips, but I don’t think I’ve ever gone out of my way for them until now.  Maybe it’s their earthy sweetness, or the fact that they are still feeding my local produce appetite, but I am in love with them right now.  And, like most things I love, they require only the simplest preparation to be perfectly delicious.

They are a nice addition to any roasted vegetable platter, as a side with a sandwich or dip, or of course they are a great snack.

  • 5-6 medium parsnips
  • 5-6 medium carrots
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • a handful of parsley

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Wash and dry the parsnips and carrots.  Slice both the parsnips and carrots about 1/4 inch thick on a diagonal; do this by lying them on the cutting board and holding them firmly (with fingertips rolled back toward you, of course), then angling your knife at a 45-60 degree angle so you are cutting oblong slices.  This provides a greater surface area to brown.  Drizzle the cut vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of salt, then spread them in one layer on a rimmed baking sheet (the rim will keep any excess olive oil from dripping off).  Place the sheet in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.  They will be browned and slightly caramelized when they are done.  Sprinkle them with parsley and a little more salt, if you wish.  Enjoy!

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Savory Millet Risotto Cakes

There are so many bits of good news with this post!  First of all, yum.  Secondly, it’s really not risotto, but just accidentally overcooked millet, that is the basis of this recipe.  Third, since it’s just overcooked millet, it really couldn’t be any easier.  And, of course, finally, you could spice up this very, very, very basic recipe in many, many ways – with herbs and spices, with vegetables, with delicious sauces, and I’m even thinking of a sweet version with coconut butter, palm sugar, and cinnamon.

Of course, it started as an accident.  I soaked millet, then added way more water than usual, and it turned out as mush.  But, mush that was easily formed into cakes without the addition of eggs or cheese or any other binder.  Somehow this brought risotto cakes to mind.  I’ve only had risotto cakes when eating out, because of course they are just a delicious way to use leftovers and I don’t typically make risotto.  These days, since I don’t really eat dairy or eggs, I would have thought risotto cakes, which I do really like, were a thing of the past.  But, just when I was least expecting it, like leg warmers and skinny jeans, they came back upon me!  So, I decided to fry up my little millet mush patties and see what happened and was very pleasantly surprised by their crunchy outsides and creamy insides that would be so amenable to a variety of additional flavors.

While I normally cook millet by adding the grain to boiling water, in this case I’m putting the millet in cold water, then bringing it to a boil before simmering  This will make the millet even that much stickier, because it will develop the starch a bit more.

  • 1 cup millet, soaked overnight
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 teaspoons ghee or olive oil, plus additional oil for pan-frying.
  • Ideas for optional additions:  caramelized onions, steamed spinach or other finely chopped greens, garlic, chopped tomatoes, fresh or dried herbs, etc.

Drain soaked millet and rinse well.  Put the millet in a small-medium saucepan with the water and salt.  Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer for about 25 minutes, or until the water is absorbed.  Turn off the heat and let the millet sit for about 10 minutes covered, then remove the cover and stir in ghee or oil, and salt to taste, as well as any additional ingredients.  Season to taste.  Allow it to cool until you are able to handle it.  Once it’s cooled down a bit, take large spoonfuls and press the into balls with your hands, then flatten the into patties.  You can cook them right away or refrigerate the patties until you are ready to eat them.  Heat a skillet over medium heat, add oil, then place the patties on the hot oil and cook 3-4 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned.  Eat immediately.  Enjoy!

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Aunt Ellie Beans

So, my family is no exception when it comes to the ubiquitous green bean casserole served at Thanksgiving dinners throughout the Midwest.  We call it “Aunt Ellie Beans”, because, of course, this was always Aunt Ellie’s contribution.  I have to be honest, I never ate it.  Love Aunt Ellie, but not those French Fried Onions.  Or the Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup.  Ok, I actually liked those salty canned green beans.  I’ll be spending this Thanksgiving with my family and I can promise you that, though Aunt Ellie’s time on this Earth has passed, Aunt Ellie beans will be on the table.

I can’t say I’ve missed this particular dish since eschewing all of the components that make it up, but now that I think of it, and knowing that some form of it will be at our table, I’m thinking there may be some elements worth saving.  Green beans and mushrooms certainly go nicely together.  A little creaminess is a comforting aspect of any dish.  And, of course, something crunchy thrown on top never hurts!  Here’s what I’m thinking…and, by the way, feel free to add a whole array of vegetables and you’ll having something more like a pot pie.  Yum.

For the cruncy topping:

  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • sea salt
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup bread crumbs or small croutons

For the green bean mixture:

  • 2 cups chopped fresh cremini and portobello mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 cups trimmed green beans, cut into 3 inch pieces.  I actually sliced them in half lengthwise first and, though it’s time consuming, it’s the zen kind of time-consuming and much more authentic
  • sea salt
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, preferably soaked 4-6 hours, then rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup water
  • 2-3 teaspoons tamari
  • salt and pepper, to taste

 

Heat a large skillet to medium and add the thinly sliced onions for the topping.  Sprinkle with salt.  Turn heat down to medium-low and drizzle the onions with olive oil.  Leave the on the heat, stirring occasionally, until you make the rest of the dish.  Heat a large ovenproof pan over medium heat, add the mushrooms and sprinkle with sea salt.  Let cooked undisturbed until they have released their juices and then started to brown; depending on the moisture level of the mushrooms, this could take 5-10 minutes or more.  Once they start to stick to the pan, give them a stir and cook for a few minutes.  Move the mushrooms to the side of the pan, add olive oil and onions and cook until they soften and begin to brown.  Stir in the shallot and cook 3-4 minutes more.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, maybe a minute or less.  Stir in the green beans, cover, and cook on low while you make the cashew cream.  Meanwhile, turn on your broiler.  In a blender, blend the cashews, water, and tamari until very smooth.  Pour the cashew cream over the vegetable mixture and stir to combine.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Remove the caramelized onions for the topping and layer them over the green bean mixture.  Sprinkle with bread crumbs and place under the broiler until the bread crumbs are crisp.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

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(Mostly) Raw Candy Bars

Last year on Halloween, my eldest son reflected that, while he didn’t want the downside of the candy he got from Trick-or-Treating, he was pretty sure that it must taste really good.  I steeled myself and told him that if he was really curious about how they taste and really wanted to try them, he should.  He chose not to, at least in front of me, at least in that moment, but not without lamenting that he’d REALLY like to know what they taste like.  Hence, the raw candy bar post for today.

The thing about food is that it’s all about giving our body the fuel it needs, by nature.  However, by habit and ritual, in our society, it’s often about so many different things, none of which is giving our body the fuel it needs.  It can be comforting, nostalgic, etc, etc, etc.  I could go into that aspect of eating for hours, but I guess my point here is that there are ways to satisfy those psychological desires with food that nourishes our body.  I would argue that the decadence of a candy bars is often just as much, or even more, about texture and contrast (think nuts and chewy caramel, or rich, smooth chocolate with crispy rice) as it is about the actual taste of the food (or not-food, depending on how you look at it).

So, I got inspired to re-create some of those texture and taste contrasts using whole food ingredients.  My kids woke up the next morning to mock candy bars from the candy fairy and they could not have been more excited.  Especially since they got to try their treats before breakfast because, frankly, they are healthier than the average breakfast in this country.  I know this might seem a little over-the-top, but it’s really pretty easy and once you make the main components, you can experiment with all kinds of candy concoctions.  Making up candy bars is a super fun cooking lesson for kids.  And, while I’m giving recipes for making these completely from scratch, you can certainly take shortcuts like melting carob or chocolate chips instead of making your own carob/chocolate coating, or mixing brown rice syrup and coconut sugar for your caramel filling.  You can also modify them – use chocolate, make them sweeter or less sweet; make them perfect for your taste.  Then, just have fun with it!

For me, this recipe made 2 loaf pans full of layered candy bars.  If you want to coat your candy bars in the carob/chocolate coating like regular candy bars, double the coating recipe.  Since coconut oil melts at 70 degrees, it’s best to keep these candy bars in the refrigerator or freezer.  I like to make them bite-sized so they don’t need to stay in the hands very long.

Carob Candy Coating:

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut sugar, maple syrup, yacon syrup, or raw honey, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon raw vanilla powder, or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-4 Tablespoons nut butter, seed butter, or coconut butter
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup carob powder, or cocoa powder

Notes: you can certainly use cocoa powder or raw cacao powder instead of carob powder.  Just keep in mind that chocolate is much more bitter than carob, so you will either end up with a bittersweet chocolate, or will need to add a bit more sweetener.  I used coconut sugar and, while it was grainy when it was in liquid form, it tasted smooth to me when it firmed up.  Also, if you’d like a fudge filling for any of your candy bars, or just for fun, use this recipes, but increase the nut butter to 1/4 cup, use 3 dates instead of the coconut sugar, and replace 1/2 the coconut oil with coconut butter.

Heat a small saucepan to medium low, then turn it off.  Put the coconut oil in the pan and allow it to melt completely.  Whisk in the sweetener, vanilla, nut butter, cinnamon and salt until it is thoroughly combined.  Whisk in the carob powder until the mixture is smooth.  Taste and adjust as necessary.  Set pan aside while you prepare your filling ingredients.

Raw Caramel: 

  • 1/2 cup pecans (can use other nuts, nut butter, or tahini)
  • 1 cup of pitted medjool dates, softened in warm water if needed
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut butter, or coconut oil if you don’t have coconut butter
  • pinch salt
  • water, as needed

Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until very smooth, adding water as necessary.  If you don’t have a blender, use a food processor; it won’t be as smooth and creamy, but it will still be delicious and will be totally great in your candy bars!  Taste and adjust as necessary, then set aside.

Raw Nougat:

  • 1 cup almonds (or other nut, nut butter, or seed butter of your choice)
  • 6 dates
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts, optional
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut, optional

Place almonds, dates, coconut oil, vanilla, and salt in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.  Taste and adjust as necessary.  Fold in optional ingredients if desired.

Filling Options:

  • Snickers: layer carob candy coating, nougat, caramel. and chopped raw cashews
  • 100 Grand Bar: layer carob candy coating, caramel, and something crispy; my favorite option is dried sprouted buckwheat groats, but I also use crumble Adaba Bars; crispy rice cereal is an option too.
  • Twix: layer carob candy coating, graham crackers, and caramel; could also make/use a raw crispy cookie to keep it raw.
  • Kit Kat: layer carob candy coating and graham crackers/wafer cookies; could also make/use a raw wafer cookie to keep it raw.
  • Peppermint Patty: add just a little sweetener (honey will keep it white) and some peppermint oil or extract (or fresh mint) to coconut butter and stir vigorously until smooth; layer carob candy coating and peppermint filling
  • Mounds/Almond Joy: see peppermint patty filling, but add vanilla, skip the mint, and stir in some shredded coconut
  • Crunch Bar: mix something crispy into the chocolate (sprouted, dried buckwheat, Adaba Crumbles, or crispy rice cereal)
  • Need other ideas or options – just send me an email and I’ll help you come up with something!

Assembling the candy bars:

Have 1-3 loaf pans, or equivalent, available.  How many you need will depend on the type/thickness of your candy bars.  Don’t forget to reserve some of the carob candy coating if you want a final layer on top!

1.  Spread the carob candy coating evenly over the bottom of the each loaf pan; should be 1/4 inch thick or more.

For Single-Layer Candy Bars (e.g. Kit Kat, Crunch Bars, Nut Bars): Put your optional additions, such as graham crackers/wafers, crunchies, or chopped nuts directly onto the carob layer.  They will sink in a bit automatically.  Freeze until solid and enjoy!

For Double/Triple-Layer Candy Bars (e.g. snickers, 100 Grand Bars, Peppermint Patties, etc): Freeze the carob layer for a few minutes to firm up.  Continue on to next steps…

2.  Once the carob layer is firm to the touch, spread your next layer on.  If you are planning multiple layers, use your thickest layer (such as nougat) now.  If you want optional additions incorporated into this layer, sprinkle them on now.  This layer may be firm enough to allow you to spread your next layer on, or may need to be frozen for a few minutes to firm up.

3.  Continue to add layers/optional additions as desired.  Freeze to firm as needed.

4.  To finish the candy bars, you have a couple options.  The simplest is to spread another layer of the carob coating over the top, freeze the pan, then cut into bars.  If you want it so look more like a traditional candy bar, you can cut the frozen bars, then individually spread them with the carob coating.  Freeze on a sheet pan, then store in fridge or freezer once firm.  Enjoy!

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Gingered Carrot-tomato Sauce

I love, love, love this sauce.  I love it on vegetable pancakes, I love it on quinoa, I love it with chickpeas or lentils or vegetables, and sometimes I just eat it with a spoon right out of the jar.  It’s just another example of how easy it is to make something divine from a few simple ingredients.  And, I can’t think of a place right now where one couldn’t just run down to the Farmers’ Market and buy all of the vegetables.  You’ll have to get your ginger from the store, most likely, but that’s a darn good ratio of local to non-local.

Of course, you could add all types of spices to this sauce – berbere, my current obsession, curry spices, chili peppers, basil, oregano…

  • olive oil for sauteeing
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 6-8 good-sized carrots, chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped, optional
  • 4-5 fresh tomatoes, or about a cup and a half of jarred strained tomatoes
  • grated fresh ginger, to taste
  • a dash of cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon ghee, optional
  • salt, to taste

Heat a large skillet to medium, add the sliced onions and sprinkle with salt.  Drizzle with olive oil and give it a stir so the onions are coated.  Reduce the heat a bit and leave the onions for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally if you get the chance, until they are very soft and caramelized.  Push the onions to the side, add the carrots and celery to the pan, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, then turn the heat back up to medium and saute until they soften.  Remove from heat.  Put the tomatoes and the cooked vegetables into a blender or food processor and process.  I like to leave this sauce a little chunky, so I am careful not to over-process, but if you are going for a smooth sauce, process away!  Pour the sauce back into the pan and grate in the ginger, then add the cinnamon, ghee, and salt.  Simmer on low for about 10 minutes or so (at least), then taste and adjust seasonings.  If you are paying attention, you’ll know when you have the right amount of salt.  Enjoy!

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Raw Avocado and Cucumber Soup

This is a great soup for this time of year and throughout the Summer – it’s light and refreshing, yet so satisfying because of all those yummy good fats from the avocado.  We can actually get local greenhouse cucumbers at the Market now, which is what inspired me to make this soup.  I think I will be making it a lot once cucumbers hit my CSA.  As the herb selection at the Market grows, I can see many different twists on this soup – fresh mint, maybe tarragon, of course dill would be nice…

In terms of serving size, this recipe will make 2-4 portions, depending on what role it’s playing in your meal.  It could also make a nice salad dressing…

  • 2 ripe avocados, medium-sized
  • 2 small cucumbers
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 1 scallion
  • 1 large lime, juiced and zested
  • a pinch to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne or chipotle powder, or to taste
  • water, as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • for garnish – chopped tomato, minced red onion and parsley or cilantro, optional

Scoop the flesh from the avocado.  Cut the cucumber into pieces.  Put the avocado, cucumber, garlic, scallion, lime juice, cayenne or chipotle powder, and salt in a blender and blend until smooth, adding small amounts of water as needed to process.  Check texture and add a bit more water if a thinner texture is desired.  Once the texture is how you like it, taste and adjust seasonings.  Garnish with chopped tomato, minced red onion and chopped parsley or cilantro.  Enjoy!

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