March 16, 2012 § 3 Comments
About a month ago, I came across this video by Sarah Britton, blogger of one of my top three favs: My New Roots. Since then, I’ve watched this little flic nine more times. I’ve graduated from a noodle strainer to a cheesecloth to a fine mesh “nut milk” bag. I’ve drunk a few gallons of nut milks.
Why go to the trouble? Certainly, there are plenty of health benefits: Nuts are spankin’ healthy. Also, in most packaged almond, rice, oat, hemp and some soy milks there are added ingredients like carrageenan, a thickener (seaweed derivative) that can be rough on sensitive tummies and may have longer-lasting detriments.
These are good reasons to buy a few cups of raw nuts and dust off the blender. But I like making nut milk for two other reasons (the purported health benefits being a mere kick in the pants). First, making this drink makes me feel delightfully resourceful. Second, you can make oodles of variations. I spice each batch differently, depending on my mood. For instance, if I want a sweet nut milk, I’ll add medjool dates (soaked in water for a half hour to soften) or a tablespoon of honey to the blender. If I want a plain milk, I won’t add any spices; it’s still creamy, the flavor is more subtle. Below, I’ve put my favorite combo of late. I use the leftover nut “pulp” to make cookies like these. I nibble on one or two for an afternoon snack with a cold glass of almond milk.
1 cup raw almonds
8 medjool dates, pitted
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
1/2 teaspoon vanilla, optional
fine mesh bag
air-tight jars for storage
1. Pour raw almonds into a large glass bowl and cover with water. Soak for a minimum of 8 hours, up to a day. A half hour before blending, add dates to soften. Drain almonds and dates and place in a blender with 4 cups of water and spices, if using. Blend.
2. Place a fine mesh bag or cheesecloth in a pitcher. Drain and squeeze the almond pulp. Reserve pulp for a fun recipe. Pour almond milk in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Diet Notes: SCD-safe, vegan, gluten-free
December 1, 2011 § 2 Comments
I get such a kick out of edible table decorations; along those lines, I like consumable party favors (or wedding take-home goodies), too. This year, for Thanksgiving, I whipped up a double batch of apple fruit roll-ups and put a small wrap on each plate. It was a seasonal palate cleanser and was a fun story-prompter. I might’ve even convinced my uncle David to buy a dehydrator!
Ingredients for the Roll-Up:
cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg, ginger
Cook down apples into a sauce or scoop from a jar. Heat on the stove; add honey and spices to taste. Remove from stove and spread on a plastic dehydrating sheet (like this one) about 1/2 cm thick. Turn dehydrator on at 135 degrees and dehydrate for 10-12 hours. Peel away from plastic, rip or cut into thin strips and roll up in parchment paper.
Diet Notes: SCD-safe, gluten-free, nut-free
November 17, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Quick pickles are my go-to recipe when the cucumber crop goes gang-busters. But it wasn’t until this past fall, when I cooked side-by-side with Cammy at Super Chilly Farm, that I added apples into the vinegar brine. We made this recipe six times in three weeks and since coming home to Arizona, my mom has kept the crisper drawer stocked with cucumbers.
Two things to note:
(1) Use the very best apple cider vinegar you can find. If you can, seek out a local apple orchard and buy vinegar in bulk (we buy gallon jugs). The cost isn’t prohibitive (in fact, it’s often comparable to grocery store prices, or cheaper when purchased in larger quantities); it only requires a bit of extra effort. While I lived in Maine I tracked down Sewall’s cider vinegar. I brought home a bottle for my mom who tried it and said it tasted like wine and was the best she’d ever tasted.
(2) At Super Chilly Farm I was fortunate to have a stock pile of heirloom apples at my disposal. With each batch of pickles, I sliced up different kinds of apples — softer, crisper, sweeter, tarter. My favorite pickle batch used sweet, only slightly acidic, very crisp crab apple varieties called Chestnut and Pipsqueak. Close runner-ups were Red St. Lawrence and Garden Royal apples. (Photographs here.) I suspect that this recipe would be quite good with the conventional varieties Pink Lady, Fuji, Braeburn or Gala. Or, if you live in apple country, visit an orchard growing out apples native to your area and try out a couple that strike your fancy.
4 medium-sized pickling cucumbers, thinly sliced
4-5 small/medium apples, unpeeled, cored
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 early onions/shallots
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup honey (or more, to taste)
1 cinnamon stick
1. Prep cucumbers: Cut off ends, discard, and thinly slice with a cabbage shredder, mandolin, food processor or sharp knife. Place cucumber slices in a colander and toss with sea salt. Let sit for 20 minutes. Prep apples and onions using the same slicing utensil—aim for uniform thinness and size.
2. In a small bowl, whisk vinegar, water and honey until full incorporated. Add cinnamon stick and pour dressing over apples and onions.
3. Rinse cucumbers and lightly dry. Add slices to bowl with apples and stir well. Let sit for at least 30 minutes before serving. Refrigerate for up to two weeks.
Diet Notes: SCD-safe, nut-free, gluten-free
September 27, 2011 § 3 Comments
I want to take a minute to give my childhood chum, Priya (writer for the deliciously delightful “muffins on sunday” blog) a mongo-mega-super-dooper thank you! She not only came up with a kick-tush muffin for this gluten-free carb-o-holic, but she was also willing to write up a guest post and share her secrets of success with you. I’m thrilled, two-fold: First, I’m delighted to get this blog back in gear, thanks to Priya. (On this note: I have one more month on the homestead in Maine; after that, I’ll resume blog-business as usual!) But more than this, I’ve been so excited to share my friend with you!
Oct 21 Update: I made a slight alteration to this recipe so that it jives with the SCD diet and fellas – no exaggeration – this is my favorite breakfast. I’m smitten. (See SCD diet notes at the bottom.)
Take it away, Priya:
is it ok to kick a guest post off with a confession? i’ll go for it: regina’s blog was the first food blog i started reading regularly. it was a couple of years ago and coincided with some big life changes. a recent convert to vegetarianism, i had also just moved across an ocean to germany to do a masters degree. while i assumed some major changes would accompany this major move, one thing i did not expect was just how central a role cooking would come to occupy in my new life.
for better or (more likely!) worse, eating out in america is pretty dang cheap. throughout college, i would often grab dinner out multiple nights a week and not bat an eyelash. what i discovered in germany was that this luxury was no longer affordable (excluding, of course, the university cafeteria, where thousands flock to each day between the hours of 12 and 2pm for a bargain lunch). in three years in germany, i estimate i ate out no more than 15 times. total!
the wonderful upside? learning to cook! mostly through reading blogs (thank you regina! thank you internet!) and fumbling awkwardly around in the kitchen, all the while trying just as awkwardly in broken german to reassure my new roommates that there was nothing to worry about (note: there was plenty to worry about). but i happened to discover that muffins were one thing i was particularly decent at. i started making them every sunday, in fact, and a cooking blog was born.
for regina, i wanted to make a tasty muffin that was gluten-free and autumn-inspired. these cinnamon maple muffins fit the bill. a batter of coconut flour, eggs, and yogurt is drizzled with cinnamon, maple syrup, and almonds right before baking. the result: light, fluffy, sweet muffins perfect any time of day.
gluten-free cinnamon maple muffins
makes about 6 muffins, inspired by comfy belly (http://comfybelly.com/)
Ingredients for the Muffins:
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plain soy yogurt
1/2 cup maple syrup
Ingredients for the Topping:
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup sliced almonds
preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. grease a muffin tin or fill with cupcake liners.
make the muffins by combining all the dry ingredients and mixing well. add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
fill cupcake liners about 2/3 of the way with batter.
drip the cinnamon and maple syrup topping over the top of each muffin. you can use a fork to poke the topping into the batter to get it to seep through into the muffin.
bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. enjoy!
Diet Notes: Gluten-Free.
This muffin can easily be tweaked to fit the SCD-diet. Here’s what I (Regina) do:
Ingredients for the Muffins:
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plain SCD-yogurt
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
1 teaspoon orange zest (optional)
May 6, 2011 § Leave a Comment
You may raise an eyebrow, or roll an eyeball, when you see another gluten-free recipe coming from this bread-loving-carb-queen. I’ve been hesitant to write personal jibber-jabber, but I think I’ll address one bit of drama, to answer any Qs from the eyeball/brow-crowd:
About a year ago, when I studied in Xela, Guatemala, I got some stomach parasites (or as my teacher Lesvia took to calling them, my “mascotas y bebes” — my pets and babies — leaving a smattering of eavesdropping students with the impression that I was pregnant and had lots of stray dogs). Upon my return to the States, I took a rainbow of different medicines to try to get my stomach back in order. The long in short: I’m still popping antibiotic pills, but heavens I do feel much better. To help my stomach get “back on its feet,” my doc told me I might want to try to cut out gluten as well as sugar alcohols (found in boatloads of chocolate – sniff!). While I’m not feeling tip-top, I’m on the mend, I think, and getting stronger. I have rekindled my enthusiasm for baking (and eating!) and I’m mindful, perhaps borderline obsessive, about taking care of myself. This past year I spent a lot of months sipping soda under a blanket on the sofa and now, I like to think I’m making up for lost time.
So, for a while, you might see a new type of recipe — many recipes without gluten, but ones that also show off some kick-tush grains that are equally, if not more tasty than their gluten-toting counterparts. This muffin recipe has been tested by many (who didn’t know they were eating a muffin with an array of odd-ball flours). The verdict: They’re wholesome, slightly sweet and, incredibly, wonderfully fluffy with great flavor. My friend Regina (I’m not speaking of myself in the 3rd) says they’re enjoyed best with an afternoon coffee, sipped and chewed in the sun.
3/4 cup buttermilk (low fat is fine)
1 cup rolled oats
1 large banana, mashed (about 2/3 cup)
1/3 cup agave nectar
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup millet flour
1/3 cup oat flour
1/3 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup teff flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, nutmeg, all spice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tin.
2. Mix oats and buttermilk and set aside for a few minutes while preparing the rest of the liquid ingredients. In a separate bowl, mash banana, mix with beaten eggs, vanilla and olive oil. Combine with oats and stir until combined.
3. In a separate bowl, prepare dry ingredients. Toss with a fork. Slowly mix into liquids and stir until just incorporated. Scoop into muffin tins 3/4 of the way (they’ll rise slightly) and bake until the knife comes out clean (between 16-20 minutes). Note: If reserving some batter to bake the following day, like most muffin batters, the consistency will thicken. Reconstitute with two to three tablespoons of buttermilk (or another milk you have handy) before baking.
4. Once baked, leave muffins in tin for 5-7 minutes. With a dull knife, scrape along edges and carefully remove from the pan. They freeze and thaw wonderfully.
Diet Notes: Gluten-free
February 5, 2011 § 2 Comments
There’s no sense in beating around the bush: While these muffins are chalk full of chocolate, in my book, this is a “slimmed-down” breakfast. That’s not exactly a caveat, but as I am a muffin fanatic, and I don’t shy away from the decadent stuff, I think a mere acknowledgment is merited for this recipe.
The base of these little bites are a blend of white whole-wheat flour and oat bran. While these muffins have no oil or butter, I added plain, whole-milk yogurt & mashed bananas to the mix to keep these muffins from turning into dense-as-brick hockey pucks. (Note: I have not tried this recipe using lower-fat yogurts. While I always encourage experimenting, whether in cooking or in the more-exact chemistry of baked goods, I imagine that a non-fat plain yogurt would certainly affect the texture of these muffins as the yogurt is the only fat source on the ingredient list.)
I’ve dabbled with the sugar ratio — if you’d like, add a bit more (1/2 a cup) but I found that the bananas (and chocolate!) added plenty of sweetness on their own, so I’ve settled on a mere 1/3 of a cup for the whole batch.
One thing to note: If you make these muffins in batches (one batch tonight, one batch tomorrow) and wind up refrigerating part of the dough, before baking the chilled dough, add a little bit of almond milk (1-3 tablespoons) so that the batter becomes more liquidy and is reconstituted back to its original texture. While these breakfast treats are best the day-of, they’re still quite moist the second day and make great snack leftovers. If you still have a muffin stockpile after that, I recommend freezing them and thawing them (they freeze and thaw wonderfully) before serving.
1 cup white whole-wheat flour
1 cup oat bran
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 (heaping) teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup chocolate chips/shavings
1 cup plain, whole-milk yogurt
1 cup mashed, overly ripe banana (about 2 large bananas, preferably ripe to the point of squishy-ness and blackened skins)
2 tablespoons almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tins and set aside.
2. Mix dry ingredients, including sugar, with a fork. Add chocolate chips to the dry ingredients (by tossing chips/chocolate shavings in the flour mixture, chips will not sink to the bottom of each muffin).
3. In a separate bowl, mash banana. Add yogurt, almond milk and vanilla. Stir well. Add to dry ingredients and stir, just until incorporated.
4. Fill 4/5 of each muffin (nearly to the top) with batter – they won’t rise a terrific amount. Bake until slightly golden around the edges and when the center bounces back a bit, with the touch of an index finger (or when the knife comes out clean). About 18-22 minutes, but keep an eye out — cooking times will vary depending on the size of the muffin tin.
December 18, 2010 § 3 Comments
A few days ago I putzed around a nearby market, ambling in and out of the bulk bin aisles. Each time I turned the corner, I noticed another stack of canned, organic, pureed pumpkin on sale — above the roasted almonds, next to the tamari-flavored pepitas, underneath the bins of flaky nutritional yeast and clumpy falafel mix. Pumpkin pies, breads and muffins are on their way out; eggnog, citrus-anythings and biscotti are on their way in. While I wholeheartedly embrace these sweet, seasonal additions, I’m not quite ready to give up my favorite pumpkin recipe. A few weeks ago I caroled and crooned over morning mochas. This piping hot, pumpkin beverage is on par with it’s chocolate-y counterpart. A few times a week, I fill up my leaky travel mug and perfume my little office with smells of pumpkin and cinnamon. My shelves are now stockpiled with pumpkin puree and I just refilled my mini, glass jars of autumn spices.
Ingredients (serves 1 large or 2 small cups):
1 cup almond milk (plain)
1/2 cup coffee, strongly brewed
1 tablespoon pumpkin puree
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin butter*
1/2 teaspoon honey (or more, to taste)**
*I use Trader Joe’s (it’s my favorite!) but you can also make your own.
**If following a vegan diet, swap honey with maple syrup.
1. Prepare coffee. My method, using a french press: Place 2-3 tablespoons of ground coffee beans in the bottom of the glass jar and heat water on the stove until boiling. Remove boiling water from heat and let cool for just a moment (so it stops bubbling), then pour water into french press and steep 4 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, combine almond milk, pumpkin puree, spices and pumpkin butter in a small saucepan on the stove. Heat on medium-high heat and whisk, on-and-off, as the liquid begins to heat. When the coffee is prepared, pour into the almond milk mixture and continue whisking.
3. Stop whisking when bubbles start to appear around the edges of the pan (don’t bring the whole mixture to a boil). Take a quick taste. If too bitter for your preference, add a half teaspoon of honey and whisk until combined. Serves two small or one generous portion.
Diet Notes: gluten-free, vegan (see asterisk)
December 11, 2010 § 2 Comments
This is going to sound dramatic, but sometimes I get to feeling as though my body houses two different people: Debbie Downer & Calm Cucumber. At times I get overwhelmed with anxiety — due to lack of a clear life trajectory — with so many unknowns in this weird, limbo state between school and more school (but wanting to fill the gap with “experience”). On these days I feel unable to organize, piece apart or analyze; but thankfully, they are often offset by good friends who offer their two-bits of no-stress, laugh-inducing distraction.
One of these chums came over this week and we gabbed over this hearty Moroccan salad (presentation inspiration from this incredible site). I prepared it earlier in the afternoon — a luxury that comes with severed job hours — and served it at room temperature. After spending the better part of the evening talking about skydiving and doomed dating stories, I walked her back to her car, down the crunch-crunch gravel covering the alleyway behind my bitty house, feeling satiated, in stomach and noggin. Ballooning stress quelled, I felt quietly lucky to have the fortune of a few, rock-star friends and a bit of extra time to see and cook for them.
1 cup quinoa, raw
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons dried blueberries & cherries
1 cup almonds, chopped and toasted*
1/2 cup scallions, chopped
1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1 winter squash (butternut, acorn, etc.)
2 avocados, chopped
juice of 1/2 large orange (approx. 1/4 cup)
juice of 2 lemons, separated
6 garlic cloves
2-4 tablespoons olive oil
* To toast almonds, place in a 350 degree oven on an ungreased baking sheet and roast until lightly browned and fragrant — about 8 minutes.
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Chop eggplant and squash in quarter-inch slices and lay on greased baking sheet. In a small bowl, pour a tablespoon or two of olive oil and mix with chopped garlic. Slather on to the tops and sides of squash and eggplant. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste. Roast until crisp, flipping halfway. Depending on size of slices, approximately 25-35 minutes total baking time.
2. Meanwhile, combine quinoa, spices and dried fruit in a pot with two cups of water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, covered. Cook until al dente. Set aside.
3. Prepare the quinoa dressing: Whisk together orange juice and juice of one lemon, a tablespoon (or more, to taste) olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and pepper. When quinoa has finished cooking, fluff with a fork and stir the dressing in, until incorporated.
4. Chop avocado. With remaining lemon, toss avocado in juice to prevent discoloration. Chop scallions and cilantro.
5. When all ingredients are prepped, layer quinoa mixture in the bottom of a bowl and line the sides with prepped ingredients, including the toasted almonds. Enjoy mixed together — hot, at room temperature or chilled.
Diet Notes: Gluten-free, vegan
November 30, 2010 § Leave a Comment
I hosted my very first Thanksgiving this year! I bought a small, sweet pumpkin from Forever Young Farm, stuffed it with buttermilk-cornbread stuffing and chucked the whole thing in the oven for an hour — perfuming the house with scents of rosemary and winter squash — and called the feast, “Save a Turkey; Stuff a Pumpkin!”
In the two weeks preceding Thanksgiving, I hemmed and hawed: When should I serve the thick, vegetable soup? How many desserts are too many desserts? What can I give my guests at the peckish, midday hour to hold them over until my (undoubtedly delayed) afternoon mega-feast? This last question put a twist in my noodle. I wanted to serve appetizers that would be satisfying, but not put a brick in the stomach. I often resort to simple blender-whiz things like hummus or riffs on that idea. But this year, I decided to steer away from spreadables. Instead, I roasted thick wedges of sweet potatoes and topped them with a tangy-avocado salad spiked with feta and nibbles of dried cranberries. To drink, we clinked pear ale in champagne glasses. To clear the palate, I filled a glass bowl with aromatic, sweet & spicy mixed nuts. It was a delightfully satisfying beginning: No flavors rivaled one another; it wasn’t boring (no carrots, celery and globby ranch dressing). It was a serendipitous start to a crisp day, spent near the warm oven, over bubbling pots and side-by-side with dear family.
1 cup cashews (raw, unsalted)
1 cup pecans (raw, unsalted)
1 cup almonds (raw, unsalted)
2 cups pretzel bites
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon mild, Santa Cruz chili powder
1 teaspoon ancho powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
1. Toast nuts in 325 convection oven for 10 minutes until fragrant and slightly browned.
2. Meanwhile, mix together sugar, syrup, spices and salt on the stove. Once nuts are toasted, toss with pretzels in syrup and place on lined baking sheet. Bake an additional 10 minutes until crisp. Cool completely, then break apart and store in an air-tight container. Can be made several days in advance.
Diet Notes: vegan
November 21, 2010 § 2 Comments
It’s by no means “bone-chilling-cold” in Tucson, Arizona. But the nighttime temperatures are scooting toward the 30s and I’m afraid to use my gas heater. As such, I’ve come up with a good reason to untangle myself from 18 very-warm blankets each morning. May I present my latest, daily, sweet-tooth habit: A piping hot, creamy, good-for-the-soul mocha. This isn’t your standard (400 calorie) coffee-shop, chocolaty-espresso drink, but rather, a slightly-less-decadent, winning morning addition to my yogurt & granola addiction.
For the past two weeks, I’ve scuttled out of bed (toes scampering across cold tile) to heat up the water pot while I commence the unexciting doldrums of morning (washing face; yawning). Minutes later, water pot whistling, I whip up a mocha (or a pumpkin latte; recipe coming!). When the drink is steaming-hot, I fill up my travel mug. The house smells rich and spicy. I get ready for work. I walk to the university. When I arrive, I unlock the thick, wooden door and open the flappy blinds by my two desk windows. I wheel the horrendously squeaky chair over to the desk past two, crammed bookshelves, a road bike and cardboard boxes stuffed with plant presses and old newspaper clippings, and I settle in by the humming computer. I sip my special drink, beginning the work day.
1 cup almond milk (plain)
1/2 cup strongly-brewed coffee
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 heaping tablespoon dark cocoa powder (high quality)
1 tablespoon hot chocolate powder (high quality)*
pinch evaporated cane sugar or spoonful of honey, to taste**
1/4 tsp. vanilla (optional)
**For those on a vegan diet, omit honey and swap with maple syrup.
1. Prepare coffee. My method, using a french press: Place 2-3 tablespoons of ground coffee beans in the bottom of the glass jar. Heat a half cup of water on the stove until boiling. Remove boiling water from heat and let cool for just a moment (so it stops bubbling), then pour water into fresh press and steep 4 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, combine almond milk, cocoa, hot chocolate powder and cinnamon in a small saucepan on the stove. Heat on medium-high heat and whisk, on-and-off, as the liquid begins to heat. When the coffee is prepared, pour into the almond milk mixture and continue whisking.
3. Stop whisking when bubbles start to appear around the edges of the pan (don’t bring the whole mixture to a boil). Add vanilla. Take a quick taste. If too bitter for your preference, add a half teaspoon of honey or evaporated cane sugar and whisk until combined. Serves two small or one generous portion.
Diet Notes: gluten-free, vegan (see asterisk)