May 30, 2011 § 4 Comments
When it comes to grab-and-go snacks, I’m positively addicted to salted peanuts & brazil nuts plus a few banana chips. But after overdosing on a shockingly large freezer bag of the above blend on a recent road trip, I’ve decided to cool off on the ‘nana-crunch snack attacks and instead, create a fantastic bar that offers additional nutritional benefits.
Through my recipe tweaking I’ve learned the following: Substituting OJ for water does not yield good results. Honey can be used as a substitute for agave nectar; however, the agave makes a sweeter bar, which is a good thing in my book, and better chew. Have fun fiddling with the dried fruits. Everyone agrees, the dates are a MUST. Dried figs are also exceptionally good. I’ve tried a couple different kinds of nuts, but pecans (shelled from my aunt and uncle’s tree!) were the clear favorite.
1 + 1/4 cups dried fruit (favorites: dried peach, date and orange-hinted cranberries)
3/4 cup pecans, chopped
1 + 1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup buckwheat groats
2 tablespoons flax meal
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons teff flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/3 cup agave nectar
1. Preheat oven to 325 on convection (or 350 in a standard oven.) Grease a 9 x 13″ baking pan.
2. Chop dried fruit and pecans. Set aside. In a separate bowl, begin adding dry ingredients. (HELPFUL HINT: While doling out teff flour, sprinkle some of the measured amount directly onto the dried fruit and nuts and toss with hands. This will prevent the dates, peaches and cranberries from clumping and sticking into a large mass.)
3. Once all the dry ingredients are assembled, set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk wet ingredients. Combine with dry and stir until completely incorporated and all oats are coated. Spread in greased baking pan. (HELPFUL HINT: Dab the tips of fingers with water and press oats into pan; this will prevent stickage.)
4. Bake until golden and slightly browned on surface, about 18 minutes. Let cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before slicing and removing.
These granola bars stay chewy on the counter for several days, but also freeze and thaw very well.
Diet Notes: Gluten-free
April 14, 2010 § 2 Comments
I cannot begin to dole out enough effusive adjectives for this little salad. And I’d like to point out that I’m rather surprised I like it as well as I do. Generally speaking, I don’t get particularly – or even remotely – excited about quinoa, and I’m really not a big fan of mint (except in a watermelon & feta salad). But I have a surfeit of the former and an overzealous mint plant in my backyard, so I decided to cut a couple of stems, whittle-down my grain stash and dabble with a new salad experiment.
Out of all the salads I’ve made in recent months, this one may be the most addictive. While I can usually eke out four lunches from a salad this size, I happily polished off this salad in half the days. What won me over – more than the crunch of toasted walnuts and the delicate plumpness of citrus-soaked dried blueberries and cherries – was the superb flavor from the Meyer lemons. Meyer lemons have an almost-orange-like taste about them, yet they still provide a sour zing. But, if you can’t find them at your farmers’ market or local supermarket, try squeezing one lemon and one orange and using the combined juice for this salad.
Two final notes: Don’t skimp on the salt and pepper – they’re crucial for rounding out the flavor. Lastly, while this salad is tasty both hot and cold, it really shines at room temperature or just slightly warmed. I suggest preparing this salad 2 hours before serving time.
zest and juice of 2 Meyer lemons
1 cup dried quinoa
1 cup dried berries (dried cherries, blueberries, cranberries, etc.)
1 cup walnuts, toasted
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
1/3 cup mint, chopped
1 tablespoon fruity olive oil
sea salt, pepper to taste
1. In a 2:1 ratio of water to dried quinoa, fill a pot with water and quinoa on the stove and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook quinoa for 15-18 minutes until tender.
2. Meanwhile, toast walnuts on the stove in a brimmed, oil-free skillet until fragrant (about 5-7 minutes). Alternatively, bake in the oven for the same amount of time at 375 degrees. Chop in rough pieces and set aside.
3. Place dried fruit in a bowl with lemon zest. Cover berries with 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and stir, thoroughly incorporating the liquid with the berries.
4. Chop mint and parsley. When quinoa has finished cooking, fluff with a fork and dump in a large bowl. Combine with walnuts, citrus-soaked berries and herbs. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt (at least 1/4 teaspoon) and several cracks of pepper. Combine with a tablespoon of fruity olive oil (or more) and taste. Add additional Meyer lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.
Diet Notes: Gluten-free, vegan
October 29, 2009 § 1 Comment
I used to eat a box of couscous a week. I was transfixed by the teeny pasta pebbles. I would cook up a big pot, swirl the warm semolina balls with cheese, scallions and roasted carrots & cauliflower (coated in cumin and olive oil) and this was my lunch every single day. Sometimes I’d vary it a little. (I’d add mushrooms and parsley.) Harking back, I think that couscous salad was my longest food repeat, next to my middle school Ramen noodle days.
As with all overabundant good things, couscous salad slowly petered out. I found other good things (wheat berries! bulgar!) that took its place. But yesterday, while riding the bus home and flipping through the last issue of Gourmet magazine, I found reason to unearth my old box of whole wheat couscous hiding behind the oats and semolina flour. While a great many of the November recipes sounded tantalizing (rye bread stuffing; golden onion pie; braised turnip greens with turnips and apples) a giant advertisement for cinnamon caught my eye. I like cinnamon just as much as the next person, but on this unusually blustery, cold afternoon, there was nothing on earth that sounded more delicious than something warm and something cinnamon. Sweatshirt cinched up around my neck, I scanned the ingredients list for this Moroccan side dish to determine what I’d tweak for my taste bud and pantry preference. Then hopped off the bus, made a quick pit-stop to the supermarket bulk bins to buy a few more dried, unsulfured apricots and dates and rushed home to eat. Although I varied this dish a bit from the original recipe–couscous salads are wonderfully forgiving–I stuck by the recipe’s suggestion to add dates and apricots.
A sweet couscous salad might raise a few eyebrows if you’re used to eating couscous with savory add-ins. But let me assure you, this is delicious, naturally sweetened by the dried fruit and absolutely excellent with a few thin strips of parmesan cheese, melted in while it’s still hot. This salad holds up terrifically for next-day leftovers, too.
1 cup whole wheat couscous, raw
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/3 cup dates, chopped
1/2 cup dried apricot, chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
scant 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
several long strips of Parmesan cheese (optional, but recommended)
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1. In a dry skillet, heat slivered almonds on medium-high heat until fragrant and toasted, approximately 5-7 minutes. Keep close watch; they burn quickly. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
2. In a small pot, pour 1 cup water, orange zest, dried fruit, spices and 2 tablespoons of butter. Heat on the stove until boiling. Turn off heat and add 1 cup of dry couscous. Stir. Put lid on top and let sit for five minutes.
3. After five minutes, remove lid from pot and fluff couscous with a fork.
4. Pour into individual bowls and top with thin slices of Parmesan cheese (you can use a squash or carrot peeler) and toasted almonds.
October 17, 2009 § 2 Comments
Last Saturday I picked up a twisty-tied baggie filled with large, grade A medjool dates from a Syrian shop by my old house. Typically, I enjoy eating dates plain or I take out the pit and stuff a pecan, large walnut or scoop of peanut butter inside. Generally speaking, when I treat myself to dates, I can’t imagine eating them baked or stewed or blended into something new.
But, after my grocery rendezvous, I found an enticing recipe on the internet featuring dates! I debated whether it was worth it to hack-up my delicious dates and throw them into a batter, fearing they’d lose their luster in a tangle of cinnamon and nutmeg flavors. In the end, I decided to give it a shot. These muffins were moist and savory, and each bite had a warm, gooey piece of date or a crunchy piece of walnut. They also freeze wonderfully.
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon all spice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
scant 1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk (or other alternative or milk)
1/3 cup molasses*
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup dates, pitted & chopped
few pinches of extra all purpose flour
*COOKING TIP: To avoid molasses sticking to the measuring cup, simply grease the inside of the cup with a thin layer of vegetable oil. Measure desired amount of molasses into the cup. When you pour the molasses into other liquids it will slide right out and leave little-to-no residue in the bottom.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin tin.
2. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir with a fork to combine.
3. In a separate bowl, lightly beat egg. Add soy milk and vegetable oil. Grease the 1/3 cup with vegetable oil (see above note) and measure molasses. Whisk with a fork and incorporate into dry ingredients. Fold in walnuts. Roll dates in flour and fold into batter.
COOKING TIP: Because dates are gooey when cut and are prone to sticking together, tumbling dates in a sprinkling of white flour and then folding them into the batter ensures they are able to move uniformly throughout the dough and not clump together.
4. Spoon batter into muffin trays 3/4 full. Depending on the muffin size, the baking time will vary. For small muffins, mine were set in the middle and clean (from the “knife test”) within 18-20 minutes. For larger muffins, the cooking time will vary between 23-28 minutes.
5. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack so they set. To remove muffins, carefully take a dull knife and run around the edge of each container and gently pry out.
January 17, 2009 § 2 Comments
This recipe was tweaked from and inspired by Vimala Rodger’s “Killer Granola” in her book, Vegetarian Meals for People-On-The-Go. My favorite way to eat this granola is with fresh berries + plain yogurt mixed with good maple syrup. I also eat it like cereal with a few splashes of rice milk.
4 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup unsweetened, organic coconut slivers
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup raw sesame seeds
1/4 cup raw pepitas
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup raw slivered almonds
1/4 cup raw pecan pieces
1/2 cup raw walnut pieces
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup honey*
2 tablespoons vanilla
After baking, add:
1 cup favorite dried fruit (Medjool dates are especially good)
*If following a strict vegan diet, use a low grade maple syrup instead.
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
3. Combine liquid ingredients and whisk for a few seconds. Pour over dry ingredients. Mix with a large spoon until all the oats, seeds, and nuts get covered with the “sauce.”
4. Spread oats on two large pans all the way to the edges. The granola will cook faster if all the oats are nicely spaced out and not piled up.
5. Cook until oats become golden-brown. The oats may feel a little damp to the touch when you take them out of the oven. Leave them in the baking sheet for about 7 minutes and they will dry out. Top with your favorite dried fruit, eat for breakfast and store the rest! This recipe makes a large batch that lasts me a few weeks.
Diet Notes: Vegan (see asterisk)