Summertime Granola: Citrus Zest, Coconut Flakes and a pat of Butter

June 15, 2013 § 4 Comments

Southwest summertime mornings begin with a heavy mugginess and cicada songs.  By midday, streets and trees are empty.  Kids swim and eat popsicles; reptiles, birds and ground animals sleep in the shade of mesquite trees and behind/under big rocks.  By evening, we all venture out again: The birds take dust baths, the tortoises dye their faces maroon with prickly pear fruit and the people… we can be found moving slow or sitting in chairs with big floppy hats, ice cold beer or lemonade in hand.

We’re in the thick of summer down here in Tucson.  And in my long absence from recipe updating, I’ve been puttering around the kitchen, attempting to throw together simple, low-key meals that not only require a short-blast of oven/stove time, but also taste a little spring-like (think: fresh herbs, tropical fruits, citrus).  This recipe channels the tropical/citrus flavor profile with sweetened, thick coconut flakes and plenty of citrus zest.  While I’ve posted a couple granola recipes on this blog (lest we forget the clumpy granola addiction of 2010) — this one shies away from nut butters and embraces a sweeter, lighter ingredient list.  Below is my favorite summertime version, but as always, feel free to add/subtract to your liking.

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Ingredients:
4 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup large coconut flakes, sweetened
1/2 cup cashews, raw
1/2 cup pistachios, shelled & raw
1/2 cup walnuts, halved & raw
1/4 cup pepitas
1/4 cup sunflower seeds

zest from 1 orange
2 tablespoons butter, salted
1/3 cup agave nectar

Method:

1.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients and toss.

2. In a small sauce pan, melt butter and agave.  Remove from heat.  Add orange zest and stir.  Pour liquids onto dry ingredients and toss until incorporated.

3. Spread oats onto a large baking sheet in an even layer.  Bake 15-20 minutes, tossing half-way.  Remove from oven when golden brown; the granola may still be damp to the touch.  Let cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.

DIET NOTES: gluten-free*
*GF oats required

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Cauliflower Fried “Rice”

December 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

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These past few months I’ve been away from home nearly as much as I’ve been at home.  My stove could’ve been featured in a magazine — unsmudged, only used to boil water for endless cups of coffee.  But in the last few weeks, my work pace has slowed down a little and I’ve re-donned my canvas cooking apron.  I’d like to share my favorite experiment of late — a grain-free “fried rice” recipe inspired by my kitchen partner-n-crime, Gina.  (You can check out her beautiful photographs and inspiring grain-free recipes over at her blog.)

I’ve made this recipe for all kinds of eaters — for folks with food allergies and those without.  It’s enjoyed by all, but definitely worth noting that this meal is an exciting addition for those on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, Candida diet, Paleo diet, among others.  It is also nut-free, gluten-free and can be easily veganized if you omit the eggs.

In this dish, rice is replaced by blended cauliflower florets.  Cauliflower, on its own, has such a mild flavor that in this dish, it takes on the taste of whatever you put into it.  I’ve trial-ed this recipe many times: Sometimes I’ll flavor it with Middle Eastern spices (turmeric, garam masala, curries); other times I’ll veer toward a south-of-the-Border taste (adobo and ancho chile powder).  Every version has been delicious.

Below, you’ll find the Starting Point. This is the bare bones ingredient list for any fried rice recipe that you like.  It’s perfectly good as is, but you can also spice it to your liking, depending on what you’re serving alongside this “rice” dish.

Ingredients:
1 head cauliflower
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup bell pepper, chopped
1/3 cup carrot, chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, grated
1 tablespoon garlic, roughly chopped
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup scallions, chopped on diagonal
1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
2-3 eggs
salt, pepper
additional spices (optional)

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Method:

1. Chop, mince and grate all vegetables and set aside.  In a food processor, blend cauliflower in one or two batches until florets break down into granule-size bits.*

*Be mindful not to overstuff the food processor or the bottom will puree and the top will remain un-chopped.

2. In a large skillet, begin by sauteing the onion for several minutes until wilted and translucent.  Add carrots and peppers and saute an additional few minutes until slightly tender.  Add cauliflower, garlic and ginger and cook and additional few minutes.  Add additional spices if you’d like to; adjust salt and pepper seasoning.

3. Just before adding the egg to the fry pan, stir in scallions and cilantro.  Saute until heated through; add eggs.  Stir constantly until set.  Remove from heat and taste for seasoning.

Serve as a side dish to any meal where you’d normally serve rice.  My favorite lunch of late has featured this rice stuffed inside of romaine lettuce wraps, garnished with a little tahini dressing and toasted sunflower seeds.  The “rice” keeps in the refrigerator for several days in an airtight container.

ImageDiet Notes: SCD-safe, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Candida diet

Crunchy Kale Chips

September 1, 2012 § 5 Comments

Last week I ate a gallon ziploc big of kale chips that packed a balsamic vinegar punch.  K-chips with chile/adobo powder are an extremely good idea.  A couple days ago I read an article about chocolate kale chips (I’m not holding my breath on that one).  This three-ingredient version is my favorite.

This recipe has undergone seven trials in the past two weeks; each time, I’ve whittled away at a list of ingredients that was, at one time, double in length.  But as I reduced and tasted, I felt that this simple-dimple blend was just as good as the previous versions touting extra spices and peppery add-ins.  (Okay, with a caveat: If you’re a garlic lover, go ahead and add a few minced cloves to this recipe — it’s terrific.)  But rest assured, this combination below is simple and good, no garlic or spicy-heat necessary.

There are only three things to keep in mind when setting out to bake a batch of crispy kale chips: (1) Make sure the kale leaves are completely dry.  If they’re at all wet, they’ll steam instead of crisp.  (2) Don’t be tempted to pile kale onto the sheet pan. Spread the kale in a single layer and when making a large batch, use two or three sheet pans. (3) Keep a close eye on the chips during the remaining 3-5 minutes of baking.  They crisp-up quickly and can burn easily.

Ingredients:
1 bunch kale, stemmed and ripped into large pieces
3-4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
sea salt, to taste
few teaspoons olive oil

Method: 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Stem kale leaves and rip into large pieces.  Wash and spin until dry; pile in a large bowl.  Toss with a few teaspoons of olive oil to coat, nutritional yeast and sea salt to taste (be generous).

2. Spread kale leaves in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 15-22 minutes, tossing half way through, until crunchy and slightly golden-brown around the edges.

Diet Notes: SCD-safe, gluten-free, nut-free, vegan

DIY: Toasted Pepitas

July 19, 2012 § 1 Comment

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Many store-bought, pre-toasted and -salted nuts and seeds are processed and coated with starches to help salt/spices adhere to the nuts/seeds.  If you are steering away from added starches in your diet, or if you simply would like to have more control over the ingredients in the food that you eat, try buying the raw materials and then dressing them up yourself — it’s a resourceful, creative alternative to what’s commonly available in a standard supermarket.

I like to roast/salt/season big batches of nuts and seeds at a time.  They’re wonderfully shelf-stable and then I have them at-the-ready.  Included below is the simplest recipe for roasting pepitas (pumpkin seeds), but feel free to dabble.  You can try roasting them with a little tamari (or soy sauce) or toss them with dill and nutritional yeast.  I enjoy pepitas out-of-hand, a-top mammoth leafy salads, soups and pasta or brown rice dishes.

Ingredients:
raw pepitas
sea salt, to taste
a few teaspoons olive oil
spices, to taste (optional)

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  On a sheet pan, toss pepitas with a little olive oil – just enough to cover all the surfaces.  Sprinkle with salt (and spices) to taste.

2.  Bake for 15 minutes; stop and stir half-way. Cool completely before packaging.

 

Diet Notes: Gluten-free, SCD-safe, nut-free, vegan

Preserving Summer’s Bounty: Dried Tomatoes

June 5, 2012 § 4 Comments

Today is the fifth of June and down in the southwest, we’re harvesting tomatoes in full swing.  In fact, we’ve been popping sweet cherries into our mouths for the last month.  In light of this fact, and given that we have several more months of lycopene-glory ahead, it’s never too early to start preserving these suckers.  Canning recipes are coming, but for now, I thought I’d start with a dehydration recipe.  Don’t worry if you don’t own one of these mammoth electrical appliances.  If you’re eating tomatoes now, your backyard is an oven.

Ingredients:
tomatoes sliced 1/4 – 1/2″ thick (cherries cut in half)
sea salt

Method:

Slice tomatoes in thick slabs and remove seeds.  Arrange evenly on a dehydrator (or mesh screen for outdoor use).  Sprinkle generously with sea salt.  Dehydrate at 135/140 degrees for 10-16 hours (depending on thickness) or until chewy and crinkled.  If dehydrating outside, keep a fine mesh cloth (ie. cheese cloth) over the tomatoes to keep bugs and debris at bay.  When cool, store in an airtight container. Will keep for several months.

Diet Notes: SCD-safe, gluten-free, nut-free, vegan

Dilly Lentils with Citrus Dressing & Ricotta Salata

April 29, 2012 § 2 Comments

In college, I had an across-the-hall-chum who was borderline obsessed with lentils.  She piled them on top of mammoth salads and claimed they were nature’s most perfect food.  When she’d go up for seconds, I’d roll my eyes and crunch through another bowl of frosted mini wheats.  Suffice it to say, I found these little legumes entirely underwhelming.

Fast-forward to 2012: In a turn-of-the-new-year cleaning frenzy, I began sorting through the pantry dregs.  I found a couple of gems: unsweetened Scharffen Berger chocolate; a quart of dried, Mexican oregano!  I also found hoards of lentils in little baggies, nicely twisty-tied.  (Several years ago I tried to perfect a lentil soup recipe; clearly, I didn’t get very far.) After a day of lentil pondering, I decided it was time for two recipe experiments: I set out to make a savory lentil burger and a springtime lentil salad.  As I type, Trial Two of the lentil burger is in the oven.  As for the salad, after four different trials, this Mediterranean bowl — punctuated with a little dill, citrus, scallion, garlic, winter greens — is down-right wonderful.  Just be sure to season it as you go; salt is key!  And the silver lining, you can make a huge batch and freeze it.  It thaws perfectly.

Ingredients for the Lentils:
2 cups lentils, raw*
olive oil
1 large white onion, thinly sliced
1.5 cups purple cabbage, shredded
2 cups winter greens (kale/collard greens/brassica leaves/etc.)
8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
sea salt, to taste
dressing (see below)
1/3 cup scallion, sliced on diagonal
3/4 cup ricotta salata grated (or feta) **
1/2 cup dill

*If following the SCD-diet, soak lentils 24 hours prior to cooking and rinse well.
**If following the SCD-diet, use a hard cheese like Parmesan.

Ingredients for the Dressing:
4 tablespoons meyer lemon juice
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar*
3-4 tablespoons fruity olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dill, chopped
3/4 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
sea salt, pepper

*If following a strict SCD diet, swap balsamic vinegar with apple cider vinegar.

Method:

1. In a large pot, boil lentils until al dente.  Drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in a wide-brimmed pan, saute onion in a little olive oil. Salt and saute until translucent (about 5 minutes).  Add cabbage and saute an additional few minutes, until slightly softened.  Add garlic and winter greens and stir until wilted.  Remove from heat.

3.  Prepare dressing; whisk and set aside.  In a large serving bowl, combine lentils, sauted mixture and dressing.  Taste and add dressing and salt as needed.  Top with scallion, dill and cheese.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Diet Notes: Gluten-free, nut-free, SCD-safe (see asterisks)

Creamy Avocado Basil Sauce (think: vegan pesto-fredo)

April 18, 2012 § 3 Comments

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This is a straightforward, easy-peasy recipe that has four ingredients and comes together in a minute flat.  Thanks to the avocado, I like to think of this creamy, vegan shmear as a hybrid pesto and alfredo sauce.

A note about the above photo: South Tucson greenhouses are teaming with ripe, cherry tomatoes and zucchinis.  As the bounty of winter brassicas and greens wanes, I’ve started loading my canvas bags with these (Sonoran) spring fruits and vegetables.  My latest kick?  Zucchini pasta.  That’s right.  I’ve been cranking one of these suckers.  I’ve dabbled with many different “noodle” preparations, but here’s my favorite method that yields flavorful, al dente “noodles”: Saute a half-cup early onion/scallion with a lot of garlic and a generous pinch of salt in a wide-brimmed sauce pan.  Saute until wilted and fragrant (just a minute or two) and add zucchini “noodles.”  Toss until heated through and coated with oil, garlic and onion.  Remove from heat; add sauce; serve warm.

Ingredients:
2 avocado
2 cloves garlic
2 cups basil
juice of a lemon (about 1/4 cup)

Method: 

Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until combined.  Add additional lemon juice to thin, if necessary.  Toss with zucchini or grain-pasta and serve immediately.  Leftovers keep two days.

Diet Notes: SCD-safe, vegan, gluten-free, nut-free

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